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How Close Is Iran, Really, To Nuclear Weapons 299

Posted by samzenpus
from the big-boom dept.
Lasrick writes "A Reuters blog post by Yousaf Butt explains the science, or lack thereof, behind recent claims that Iran is closer to building the bomb. Butt has been writing in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, most recently blasting the unsourced AP 'Iranian graph' that claimed to show nuclear testing activity as well as the Washington Post story about Iran's alleged order of 100,000 magnets for their centrifuges."
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How Close Is Iran, Really, To Nuclear Weapons

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  • by Dexter Herbivore (1322345) on Monday February 25, 2013 @10:34AM (#43003243) Journal
    I want to make a joke about his name, but I just can't bring myself to take such an easy shot.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      I want to make a joke about his name, but I just can't bring myself to take such an easy shot.

      True. The poor guy has probably been the... uh... you-know-what (wink-wink) of jokes for many years...

    • Butt [wikipedia.org] refers to a lot of things, but given the first name, I am pretty sure it refers to the very common Kashimiri surname [wikipedia.org]

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Please don't, nobody likes an asshole

    • The 'talk' (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 25, 2013 @02:36PM (#43006625)

      Whenever some country comes close to the final development of nuclear bombs, the Americans and the Russians send a special ambassador to them to have 'the talk'.
          The talk goes something like this:
          "Well, we have been able to detect that you are close to developing a functioning nuclear weapon. Don't deny it, just shut up and listen.
            We and the Russians (or the Americans, depending on who's talking) have constructed a situation between ourselves where we both have enough hydrogen bombs to kill every living thing on earth and still have enough left over to blow up the moon. You, on the other hand, will so have enough nuclear weaponary to blow up a shopping mall and its parking lot. We and the Russians (or Americans, as the case may be) have our weapons set on hair-trigger automated response so that anything from a flock of geese to a stray alpha particle could set the whole thing off and take everybody with it. We're not exactly proud of this situation and would like to tone it all down a bit. But it has taken on a life of its own and basically, at this point, we're stuck with it.
              In this situation as it is and will continue to be, there's no room for half assed clowns like you. You are a pissant wild card that could easily blunder into fucking up the balance and causing the entire destruction of world civilization. We know that you don't think this way, and you believe that you have legimate reasons for making this nuclear bomb, but, frankly, you and any of your reasons don't mean shit to us or the Russians (or Americans).
            So here's the deal. You're not going to like it. But you don't have any choice. You are a third world peasant of no real consequence and we are the two countries that have 15000 hydrogen bombs between us. That means we rule the world that you live in and we decide the way things are going to be.
            We can't afford to have ANY nuclear event horizon happen that might escalate into global nuclear exchange. We aren't going to let August 1914 happen again where the assassination of minor playboy prince dominoed into a World War.
            So, if ANY nuclear event happens in your corner of the world, by anybody, for any reason, we are going to assume YOU are responsible and we and the Russians (or the Americans, again, depending on who's delivering 'the talk') are going to nuke your entire country past present and future into sparkling glowing dust.
            In other words, if you go ahead with this program of making a nuclear device, and then announce to the world that you have a bomb, and actually do a successful test of it (and we will know if you have), then you are going to have to take control and responsibility of all the crazy fools in your part of the world who also might somehow get a rogue nuclear device. And we all know that you have a lot of crazy fools in your part of the world.
            That's the way it is. The choice is yours.
              Have a nice day. "

          Basically the USA:USSR has given this talk to the Israelis, Japanese, Pakistanis, Indians, South Africans, and North Koreans so far. The Israelis and Japanese were smart enough to never acknowledging their bombs or (in the case of the Japanese) their ability to build one in a short time. The South Africans gave up their nuclear bombs when apartheit ended. The Pakis and Indians are happy to accept their own destruction if it means the destruction of the other Pakis and Indians because they believe that they'll just go to heaven and the other Pakis:Indians won't. And the North Koreans are too bat-shit crazy to care about anything anyway.
              This is just conjecture, but the Iranians will most likely accept the terms of 'the talk' and then settle into the nuclear community background like the Chinese, British, and French have. Basically a "don't fuck with us and we won't fuck with you" Golden-Rule stance that seems to work the best in this bad situation that we have all lived with since the 1960s.

      • Re:The 'talk' (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Ian Alexander (997430) on Monday February 25, 2013 @06:42PM (#43009657)
        This ignores the fact that Iran was a key U.S. ally under the Shah and when the Islamic Revolution happened the United States immediately did an about-face and has been extremely hostile to Iran ever since. We supported the Axis of Evil Dictator Saddam Hussein (oops, that was more than 20 years ago, I'm not supposed to mention it because it never ever happened) against Iran in the Iran-Iraq war because we wanted Khomeini out.

        Come on, has everybody already forgotten that we invaded Iraq because of "bulletproof evidence" that Saddam had an advanced WMD program? And then that justification for invading sort of just... fell off to the wayside when we occupied the country and picked apart the guts of his regime, and it turned out there weren't any WMD's, and the intelligence turned out to be fake?

        The United States wants regime change, they're just putting pressure on Iran. The Islamic Republic came into power on a wave of anti-Western (well, more like anti-Western-imperialism) sentiment and has distinguished itself to its people by not bowing to Western pressure, even under sanction. It is entirely plausible that they're committed to pursuing nuclear energy in the face of American pressure simply because they don't want to be seen to buckle to American demands.
  • Promises! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 25, 2013 @10:41AM (#43003341)

    Don't worry, Obama promised us that he will not allow Iran to have nuclear weapons.

  • by maweki (999634) on Monday February 25, 2013 @10:41AM (#43003359) Homepage
    Last year in an IAEA report they said that iran doesn't refine its uranium to weapon's grade but to a metallic form that can be used in reactors but can not be refined further. Now Aljazeera writes: The IAEA's report showed "no evidence of diversion of material and nuclear activities towards military purposes,"
    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2013/02/2013221224353882956.html [aljazeera.com]

    It seems that the IAEA has in all their reports strong indications that the nuclear program is peaceful. So IAEA officials have been denied access to military installations which are not covered by the Nuclear non proliferation treaty. And even then, Iran has allowed inspections at a later date even though the IAEA has no right to do so (it wouldn't have in any other nation as well).
    I have the distinct feeling that western media is very biased. But it was with Iraq's WMDs (or lack thereof) as well.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mblase (200735)

      Iran has been VERY good at making the West look like the bad guys in this, and every other, disagreement. Basically, it's extremely hard to know whether Iran is actually actually hiding a nuclear weapons program, or whether they're just making it look like they're hiding a nuclear weapons program. It's quite possible they're doing both. Lord Vetinari would applaud.

      The good news is that Israel probably has a better idea than the IAEA as to when Iran will actually be able to launch a nuclear weapon, and Israe

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 25, 2013 @11:20AM (#43003847)

        In the end, it's all just posturing for more respect from other nations. Iran isn't reckless enough to actually do anything that would end in the entire Western world declaring war on them in response.

        That would be all well and good if certain movers and shakers within the west weren't agitating significantly with a view to starting a war. Frankly these people and their pawns should be incarcerated and their assets seized. If a drunk teenager can be arrested for suggesting on facebook a riot that doesn't even happen then how is it that those in the media pushing for wars that will result in tens of thousands dead can walk away scott free?

      • by runeghost (2509522) on Monday February 25, 2013 @12:33PM (#43004795)

        'Israel' has been claiming that Iran is going to have a nuclear weapon "in under 36 months" or some other value of foo months, for over a decade. They've completely discredited themselves on this front, as has the United States.

    • by khallow (566160) on Monday February 25, 2013 @11:09AM (#43003709)

      Last year in an IAEA report they said that iran doesn't refine its uranium to weapon's grade but to a metallic form that can be used in reactors but can not be refined further.

      No such form exists. You can always react it with fluorine, do the centrifuge thing, and thereby increase the concentration of uranium 235. And since it is a higher grade than what Iran started with, it requires less energy to close the gap to weapon grade.

      It seems that the IAEA has in all their reports strong indications that the nuclear program is peaceful.

      No it doesn't. The statement you quote "no evidence of diversion of material and nuclear activities towards military purposes," just means that Iran currently isn't diverting that material to military purposes. That will come later when they have enough material and otherwise working fission bombs to use that material.

      You don't admit you have nukes until you set one off openly. That's how several of the other nuclear powers did it.

      • by guanxi (216397) on Monday February 25, 2013 @11:43AM (#43004145)

        The statement you quote "no evidence of diversion of material and nuclear activities towards military purposes," just means that Iran currently isn't diverting that material to military purposes.

        It means that the IAEA has no information it can publicly reveal on the subject. "No evidence" is much different than "it's not happening".

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          You're absolutely right. There's also absolutely no evidence that the invisible pink unicorn behind you isn't going to stab you to death some time in the future

          • by mbkennel (97636) on Monday February 25, 2013 @04:38PM (#43008223)

            It just takes logic.

            In this case, Iran has a uranium enrichment program that they are dead set on keeping to power hypothetical nuclear reactors that they promise to build sometime later, and haven't really even started. The one that the Russians built is being fueled with externally purchased fuel, and other nations have also been willing to sell lots of reactor grade fuel. Iran has refused to take this deal.

            So Iran is spending lots of money, and incurring major economic distress to continue with enriching uranium. If it were truly for nuclear power reactors, an economic development issue, it makes no sense for them to pursue this path. Besides, they have lots of natural gas, and gas is not cheaply or easily transported (unlike petroleum), and it makes much more sense for them to use natural gas for electrical power generation and export as much petroleum as they can, just like every other Persian Gulf state.

            There is also intelligence that they received information from A.Q. Khan's proliferation network.

            Simple logic shows that the empirical evidence around Iranian government's policies and actions is most compatible with a nuclear weapons program and not a nuclear power only program.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        In theory you react it with fluorine and get UF6 but that is not easy with typical fuel plates. First, they are uranium oxide, not pure uranium rods. The purity of the UF6 gas also must be very good for processing in a centrifuge chain (otherwise they jam).

        It is true you can go back and enrich further, but it is a serious hassle.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Ask yourself a silly question. Why would a country that is awash in oil go to these lengths, including being the subject of sanctions, merely to build a few nuclear power plants? It makes no sense. The only answer reason that a country would go through all this is to obtain a nuclear weapon, because that changes everything. Come on folks, are you all really that naive?

    • by bitt3n (941736) on Monday February 25, 2013 @11:29AM (#43003961)
      how is this flapdoodle getting modded informative? he says

      It seems that the IAEA has in all their reports strong indications that the nuclear program is peaceful.

      and yet the IAEA has indeed issued a report owning to strong suspicions the program is not peaceful. From The Economist [economist.com]

      The UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), published a damning report detailing its concerns over the “possible military dimensions” of Iran's nuclear programme ... The IAEA's November report also indicated that Iran had probably already tested a sophisticated detonation system for an explosive device suitable for use as a ballistic-missile warhead (albeit the tests are likely to have taken place before 2004, when the weaponisation side of the programme was pursued more energetically than it is today). Informed by the IAEA's work and intelligence sources, estimates of Iran's potential timeline to nuclear weapons—if the country were to quit the NPT and throw everything into its programme—vary between just a couple of months for a single crude device and more than two years for an arsenal of three or four nuclear-tipped, solid-fuelled ballistic missiles.

      • by Jmc23 (2353706)
        Wow. Just wow. Those economists are really good at doublespeak.

        Get some reading comprehension skills.

    • by Xest (935314) on Monday February 25, 2013 @11:34AM (#43004035)

      Might I suggest you go read the actual IAEA reports direct from the horses mouth?

      They say no such thing, and the IAEA have been very clear in their consecutive reports for about a year now that they have concerns and some degree of evidence that Iran may well be trying to create a nuclear weapon.

      I don't know why people keep spreading myths about what the IAEA has or hasn't said, it's very clear what they've said and it's publicly available on their website for all to see.

      Who cares what some news organisation or blogger has said, what the IAEA has said is that they've seen enough to be rather concerned. Also, your speculation about what the NPT does and doesn't allow is false too - again, something that can be trivially confirmed by reading the masses of publicly available official documentation on the subject.

      I'm not saying whether Iran does or doesn't actually have a bomb or if they are or aren't trying to get one, but I am saying that people trying to defend Iran need to quit it with the lies and myths. They keep making stuff up that simply doesn't tally with official commentary and documentation on the issue, that complete lack of credibility alone does more to damage their cause than anything else. The other side of the debate are far from perfect, but at least whether they intentionally checked them or coincidentally are just on the right side of the argument in this regard, they at least have facts on their side over issues such as Iran's breach of it's obligations, and the IAEA's concerns on the issue.

    • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Monday February 25, 2013 @12:21PM (#43004607)

      Lets have some common sense here. Iran wants nukes... as well they should. If anything is going to prevent a US invasion, it's nukes.

      Secondly, Iran has no use for peaceful nuclear power. They have an abundance of oil. Energy is basically free for them. Do you think they suddenly started caring about their CO2 emissions? I really doubt it.

      Thirdly, Iran is under horrible sanctions because of their nuclear development. Some countries have even offered to build nuclear power plants for them, that would remain in foreign control but give Iran all of the power for free... and Iran refuses. Why is that?

      The fact is, Iran wants Nuclear weapons. They are almost assuredly trying to develop them under the guise of a peaceful program. But, there's nothing we can really do about it. They WILL get nuclear weapons eventually. Short of a full invasion, there's very little we can do. It may be a year from now, or 50, but one day Iran will test their first bomb and then we'll know for sure.

  • by Lawrence_Bird (67278) on Monday February 25, 2013 @10:45AM (#43003395) Homepage

    Does Iran know how to build a basic weapon? Yes. But then again, so do a lot of others.

    Does Iran have the technological skills to make a war head small enough to be delivered on one of their missiles? Debatable, but inevitable and practice makes perfect. They could use some help with the CEP and range of those missiles too.

    Does Iran have anything other than a uranium based bomb available? Not at this time. And the chemical reprocessing necessary for irradiated fuel out of Arak or the TRR is not a layup. Years, if not a decade.

    How long will it take Iran to enrich to 90%+ their current LEU? A couple of months, tops. Most of the SWU's are spent just getting to LEU.

    Of course, left unsaid in all of this is... would Iran ever use a nuke? Given that India and Pakistan have not (and there is certainly no shortage of nutters in those countries), that Israel has 2-300, the USSR a few thousand... I think the resounding answer is no. Persians exports are carpets and pistachios, not glass.

    • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Monday February 25, 2013 @10:53AM (#43003507)

      Of course, left unsaid in all of this is... would Iran ever use a nuke?

      Iran wants nukes for the same reason that the North Korea wants them, to keep the U.S. from ever invading their legs of the "Axis of Evil" (like they did with Iraq). And if you're a smaller country about the only way to ensure that the U.S. can't and won't invade is to have nukes.

      So it's very unlikely that Iran would ever use its nukes. Merely having them would achieve their objective (stopping any invasion).

      • by medcalf (68293) on Monday February 25, 2013 @11:08AM (#43003691) Homepage
        Actually, I suspect that you misunderstand their objective. Oh, maybe stopping a US invasion is a secondary objective, but I don't think that's their primary objective. Their primary objective seems to be (if you take their word for it) bringing about a new Caliphate under Shi'a dominance. To that end, nuclear weapons would be a huge advantage.

        Iran wants to meddle deeply in the affairs of its neighbors, maybe assassinate those who don't play along, support those who strike at Israel (HAMAS and Hizb'allah, for instance) and the like. This furthers their objective of establishing a renewed Caliphate that they control. So when they do those things today, the US and the Saudis and the Emirates and others fight back in numerous ways. But we are very, very, very limited in what we can do once they have working nuclear weapons. And so even if they don't strike Israel (which they might, if they felt it could bring about their objectives), their possession of nuclear weapons would be hugely destabilizing for the region, and not in good ways.

        The two most likely responses though are that Israel would strike Iran to prevent them getting nuclear weapons (which might require a pre-emptive nuclear attack by Israel, given the range) or that the Saudis would also obtain nuclear weapons in an attempt to balance the situation and limit Iran's options. Basically, the Middle East is in the process of descending into an even bigger mess than it has been the last century, or millenium depending on how you measure it, and the US is not only not the prime mover in this, it's basically being ignored by all sides.

        • by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Monday February 25, 2013 @11:29AM (#43003973) Homepage

          Actually, I suspect that you misunderstand their objective. Oh, maybe stopping a US invasion is a secondary objective, but I don't think that's their primary objective. Their primary objective seems to be (if you take their word for it) bringing about a new Caliphate under Shi'a dominance.

          Just as a note; they wouldn't be interested in a Caliphate; that was an Arabic hegemony. Iraq might like to see a new caliphate, ruled once again from Baghdad, but Iran wouldn't. They would like to restore the Persian empire.

          --Basically, though, having the bomb would make them the big bullies on the block. It's more of the 90-pound-weakling-wanting-to-become-Charles-Atlas thing: once they have the bomb, they figure nobody's going to kick sand in their faces any more, and the world will pay attention to them, putting them back in (what they perceive to be) their rightful place as big boys deserving respect.

          • The problem with openly having bombs to bully people with is that the Saudi defense budget is 7X that of Iran. They can plunk down $50b on their own nuclear weapons program with only minor belt tightening elsewhere.

            It is entirely plausible that Khamenei has made the very rational choice that having capability without weapons is the long-term sweet spot. Military confrontation (short of a massive, regime changing invasion) runs of the risk of tripping escalation. Iran's short term deterrent is to threaten

            • The fear scenario is always that the Iranians will leverage a nuke into closure of the Straits of Hormuz. But what does this really mean?

              The problem with using nukes as a threat is that it has to be plausible that you might actually use them and that there's some end game after the mushroom cloud.

              With the US and Soviets this was plausible -- both countries had massive stockpiles of weapons, global delivery systems, hardened command and control systems, public commitment to MAD, and some kind of plan for p

        • by DarkOx (621550)

          I am not so sure. I really think we should not worry about Iran getting the bomb. What we should do is make it clear to them that IF they do we are going to overtly provide nuclear weapons to Israel, and the Saudi's and possible some of other more stable and friendly region actors. That might actually offer the region real stability for the first time.

          Its kinda like the old argument about arming police with guns vs clubs.

          A club is an invitation to argue; chances are pretty good there is a similar effecti

          • by DarkOx (621550)

            Another thing this will do is tell us allot about how reasonable the Iranian power structure is. If you make it clear to them that the outcome of their continuing to develop nuclear weapons is that after years of costly development, suffering sanctions and other unwanted kinds of international attention they will finally get a bomb and perhaps some sort of surface to air delivery system.

            What their enemies get is access to more mature; better tested American weapons at retaliate cost rather than having to d

      • The only way to deter a US invasion is to have nukes. Iran does not have nukes. The US has not invaded Iran. Hmm. Care to take another whack at it?
        • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Monday February 25, 2013 @11:25AM (#43003915)

          The US has not invaded Iran.

          No, you're not looking at it from their perspective. Here is the timeline as they see it:

          U.S. declares us part of The Axis of Evil, then proceeds to invade one of the other members of that Axis. The U.S. then becomes bogged down in that other country (thanks in part to our heroic support of the insurgency). This leaves us (and the third member of the Axis) with a brief window to develop nukes, before the U.S. can regroup and prepare invasions for us too.

        • by chill (34294)

          Exactly how do you think having a couple of nuclear weapons would deter the U.S. from invading? Keep in mind you're talking about decision makers in the U.S. who were calculating the odds regarding facing a Soviet threat of several THOUSAND nukes capable of reaching anywhere in the U.S.

          Say the U.S. does invade. What is the scenario? Iran uses the nukes on their own soil as defense? Good luck with that. They use them on Israel just because they're fuckwits? Quite possible, but would lead to the same result a

          • by Comrade Ogilvy (1719488) on Monday February 25, 2013 @01:15PM (#43005365)

            Exactly how do you think having a couple of nuclear weapons would deter the U.S. from invading?

            The deterrence is not to the physical safety of the US. The deterrence is the threat to US allies, who will not look kindly on paying the price for a brutish US policy.

            Likewise North Korea could be starved down to size with no risk to US soil. But South Korea is not keen on the idea of 10000 conventional missile and 100,000 artillery shells raining down on their capital. Thus we tread lightly, out of deference to of our ally -- escalating would not be doing our friend a favor.

            • by chill (34294)

              I understand North Korea is within spitting distance of not only South Korea, but Japan as well. But we aren't talking about them. Iran is different from North Korea. The only U.S. ally in that area is Israel -- who is pushing harder for U.S. action than anyone.

              • Nonetheless, the point stands. It is not necessary to threaten to US directly in order to achieve deterrence. It is only necessary to make a credible threat that US interests in the region would suffer as a result of US escalation. Tel Aviv and Riyadh are within reach.

                Deterrence does not require Iran to win. Iran just needs the capacity to cause enough havoc that escalation looks like a lose-lose scenario from the standpoint of US interests.

                There is no consensus in any national intelligence agency that

          • You clearly fail to consider that nuclear weapons can be used strategically as well as tactically. I would suggest the order of use being 1) airburst over US fleet operations 2) attack against massing US troops with smaller device. Yes Iran is going to get fallout, but that may be acceptable. They may also calculate (rightly or wrongly) that the US would not launch an all out attack against Iranian cities if their own targets were purely military.

            • by chill (34294)

              I considered it, as it would be the most "logical" use. However, the actual USE of nuclear weapons, regardless of how, would simply be the trigger. Everyone would be using it as an example of "if they'll do that, who knows what they'll bomb next! Probably ! Stop them now at all costs!"

              Also, just about every Gulf Arab state would be screaming to eradicate Iran out of fear.

              Crossing the line is all it would really take to initiate a completely eviscerating response. It won't matter whether it is a toe across t

        • Have you been living under a rock over the past year? There are those in power who are just *itching* to invade Iran. If they didn't have their hands full with Afghanistan and Iraq, there'd likely be boots on the ground right now.
      • Of course, left unsaid in all of this is... would Iran ever use a nuke?

        Iran wants nukes for the same reason that the North Korea wants them, to keep the U.S. from ever invading their legs of the "Axis of Evil" (like they did with Iraq). And if you're a smaller country about the only way to ensure that the U.S. can't and won't invade is to have nukes.

        So it's very unlikely that Iran would ever use its nukes. Merely having them would achieve their objective (stopping any invasion).

        That's one presumption. Some people are under the impression the leaders of those particular countries are insane. I'm not saying I'm one of them, rather that the reason is something that can only be speculated about by outsiders. We know what NK has stated that their goal is to develop nuclear warheads and rockets capable of targeting the US.

        As a US citizen, my opinion is if they can't be stopped by peaceful measures (sanctions etc) before they have that capability, then we should pursue an invasion.

    • by maweki (999634)
      Given the religious views of Iran's populous and the amount of Arabs in Israel and Palestine I would hazard the guess that Iran would abstain from contaminating the sacred sites of Islam in Jerusalem with nuclear fallout.
      • by medcalf (68293)
        I doubt that would stop them for a moment. After all, the Muslims are constantly on about how we can't fight them during Ramadan, but they fight each other all through Ramadan. I suspect Iran would not hesitate a moment before killing millions of Arabs (the Iranians are Persian after all, and the Arabs they'd be killing are largely Sunni anyway, while the Iranians are Shi'a) and destroying Islam's "third holiest site," which became so rather notably about the time that Israel took control of it. Odd, that.
        • by gtall (79522)

          Yep, Iran doesn't seem to have a problem helping the Alawites in Syria slaughtering the Sunnis there. Hezbollah doesn't appear to mind either.

    • Well, a difficulty is the lagging of the Islamic world in science and technology-- they are very short in the skilled people needed for making a credible nuclear technology infrastructure, although Iran possibly slightly less than much of the rest of the middle East. Religious fundamentalism doesn't serve well as a way to educate scientists and engineers (...and that should be a lesson for the US, not just Iran.)

      There was a good article "Why the Arabic World Turned Away From Science" recently:
      http://www.th [thenewatlantis.com]

    • clearly meant Russia, not USSR. Just finished reading some stuff on Stalin over the w/e so had USSR on the mind.

    • by sgt_doom (655561)
      Does the US gov't spew bullcrap to benefit their owners, the plutocracy (multinationals)? Maybe you could answer a real question for a change.
    • by jon3k (691256)
      Of course they won't use them, because the world will bow to pressure from the Iranians for whatever they want. Aid, trade, etc. The same shit the DPRK does now. The point is the world doesn't need the nutcases in Iran holding nuclear weapons over everyone's heads.
  • Meh. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lesincompetent (2836253) on Monday February 25, 2013 @10:45AM (#43003401)
    How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.
    • You do realize 99% of the world's population died in that movie, right? The only ones who weren't worrying were the few military/scientific/political leaders who had 10 hot women each in their bomb shelters.
  • by medcalf (68293) on Monday February 25, 2013 @10:49AM (#43003447) Homepage
    Looking at his bio [fas.org], most of his work for FAS seems to be arguing against missile defense. He seems to be [wordpress.com] a bit of an activist. Basically, he comes across [politico.com] as a bit of an ostrich about Iran's nuclear program: nuclear weapons are bad, and war is bad; therefore if the Iranians are seeking nuclear weapons, it justifies ballistic missile defense (which he's against) and possibly an attack (which he's against) to stop Iran from reaching their goal; therefore Iran must not be seeking nuclear weapons. Not exactly a scientific chain of argument, but it seems to be the path he's on (based on that last link, and two of his other articles that I read through).
    • Yeah I guess advocating for the facts makes you an activist *eye roll*....what was Netanyahu advocating for again....
    • by wvmarle (1070040) on Monday February 25, 2013 @11:05AM (#43003667)

      Not surprised he's an activist; that are the anti-Iran people too.

      Currently there is, as he argues, no evidence that Iran is trying to produce a nuclear bomb. The regime denies they want to, and the information we have about their nuclear program supports that claim.

      The author mentions two interesting extra arguments, though. First of all, he admits that the IAEA can not check everything. It is possible for Iran to have a secret program trying to put together a nuclear bomb, and if they hide it very well, there would be no evidence to be found. But that'd be really hard.

      And as soon as Iran has a mature civilian nuclear industry, they have a nuclear weapons capability. Which is fully within their rights as signatories of the NPT. This is a simple result of this technology being dual-use by nature. Many countries have the capability to build a nuclear weapon in a matter of months, but do not do this. By signing the NPT they agree not to, so to develop a bomb they would have to break the NPT (openly or not), and in all likelyhood expell the IAEA inspectors.

      Anyway one key point in his argument I fully agree with: the problem that certain countries have with Iran is more political than legal. And in that line, the best way to prevent Iran building a nuclear weapon may be very well by actually helping them to develop the civilian nuclear industry they want - that way you can keep certain key technologies out of that country, keep better track of what they're doing, and, maybe most importantly, make the regime happy and take away any urge they may have to make a nuclear weapon.

      • Civilian nuclear power? Amazing...someone actually buys Iran's cover story?!?
        • by wvmarle (1070040)

          Do you have any proof that they are developing a nuclear weapon? And no, political allegations do not count.

          That would be interesting, as the IAEA reports no such activities were found, while there are many activities that support Iran's claim that it is for peaceful reasons only.

          And besides, what is so strange about countries having nuclear power for peaceful reasons? Iran wouldn't be the only one.

    • What has the world come to when thinking nuclear weapons and war are bad things is considered being an "activist" and raises suspicions that you are probably biased.

      • by medcalf (68293)
        Knowing where a person is coming from is useful. I did not use "activist" in a context that implies a negative, but it certainly implies a bias. I, too, have a bia on issues of interest to me; I think everyone does. But do keep in mind that someone who is an activist on a particular issue is going to have a very different viewpoint from someone who is not.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    What's the distance to North Korea? That's how close Iran is from having nuclear weapons TODAY.

  • by gmuslera (3436) on Monday February 25, 2013 @10:54AM (#43003525) Homepage Journal
    In fact, as close as Iraq previous to the US invasion. There is no better prediction than the one that you make it happen.
  • by fredrated (639554) on Monday February 25, 2013 @10:54AM (#43003539) Journal

    The point is to start a war with them to suit Israel.
    End of story.

  • by mrmtampa (231295) on Monday February 25, 2013 @10:59AM (#43003587) Homepage

    If they aren't careful!

  • by rbrander (73222) on Monday February 25, 2013 @11:06AM (#43003677) Homepage

    ...about 50 countries are estimated to have it. Sometimes called "Latent", but I prefer the "Threshold" term, it has the right connotation of stepping right up to the line and voluntarily stopping.

    Nation that CAN build a bomb in months flat = Nation not to stage a major invasion of. (By the time Russia, Pakistan, or the US could marshal up forces to take on a nation of 70 million, the first bombs are coming off the line).

    Nation that HAS built a bomb = target

    And Iran knows it.

    Understanding that doesn't involve liking or trusting them. Meanwhile this has to be the ninth time in a dozen-odd years that the "Attack Iran" nuts (after their Iraq debacle, "nuts" is the only appropriate word) have played Lucy and the Football with gullible US conservatives. The big windup, then no bomb.

    • The first targets would be the assembly lines, reactors, processing plants, and launch sites. In fact, the first that Iran would know that an attack had begun would probably be those sites winking away off their communications networks, especially if a nation with a modern stealthed air force was involved. Unless you have all your facilities under 100m of solid bedrock there's nothing you can realistically do to stop it. And even if you are under 100m, you have to be able to maintain air superiority for

    • Nation that HAS built a bomb = target

      What nation with a nuclear bomb has ever been invaded?

      • by MightyYar (622222)

        What nation with a nuclear bomb has ever been invaded?

        Israel [wikipedia.org]

        During the night of October 8–9, an alarmed Dayan told Meir that "this is the end of the third temple."[261] He was warning of Israel's impending total defeat, but "Temple" was also the code word for nuclear weapons.[262] Dayan again raised the nuclear topic in a cabinet meeting, warning that the country was approaching a point of "last resort."[264] That night Meir authorized the assembly of thirteen 20-kiloton-of-TNT (84 TJ) tactical atomic weapons for Jericho missiles at Sdot Micha Airbase,

    • In particular, if it is generally believed that Iran has a few bombs, Saudi Arabia can easily plunk down $50B and get a few of their own with only minor shaving of their existing defense expenditures. So nuclear weapons are not a great offensive threat if the long-term result is the whole neighborhood becomes more dangerous. Standing at the threshold is probably the rational optimum for a defensive posture.
    • ..

      Nation that CAN build a bomb in months flat = Nation not to stage a major invasion of. (By the time Russia, Pakistan, or the US could marshal up forces to take on a nation of 70 million, the first bombs are coming off the line).

      It would probably take, at most, 1 week to plan and prepare for an overflight of a dozen B-2 bombers, each with 80 guided bombs. Having 1000 heavy bombs surgically dropped on Iran's infrastructure would essentially cripple the nation, giving a larger country the few extra months needed to mount a full-scale invasion.

  • by nimbius (983462) on Monday February 25, 2013 @11:10AM (#43003731) Homepage

    its an irrelevant question that only we are asking. we sanction the country into poverty in the hopes we can reign in a rising power that would upset the 'regional balance' of american dominance that ensures cheap oil and compliance through a network of corrupt foreign leaders. after ensuring everything from banking to foreign trade is nearly impossible, we rest our head in our hands and wonder, 'when will iran create this horrible weapon they seek to use against the world?'

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ... because they're different from us, have no way of credibly causing us major damage, and because we NEED an enemy to justify the billions which are being spent on kickbacks and slush funds in the weapons industry.

    Some of those billions actually get through to the factory floor and turn into weapons, so we need to test them as well...

  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Monday February 25, 2013 @11:50AM (#43004235)

    They've been claiming their regional rivals have been a year away from an evil nuke for probably 10 years now. Israel needs to STFU and worry about the 200 or so unreported nukes they have in flagrant violation of the same international laws they want Iran eviscerated under.

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      the same international laws they want Iran eviscerated under.

      Israel never signed on to the nonproliferation treaty. There is no international law that they are violating by possessing or developing nuclear weapons.

      Iran, as a signatory, is obliged to allow inspections. They currently are obstructing the inspectors, which is the source of their troubles. They can leave the treaty any time they like, just as North Korea did. They want it both ways - they want the benefits of the NPT and the benefits of being a nuclear power.

  • by whitroth (9367) <whitroth@5-COLAcent.us minus caffeine> on Monday February 25, 2013 @01:44PM (#43005737) Homepage

    And after we illegally and immorally invaded, found out that Hussein was talking about them most heavily to influence Iran, with whom they'd fought a truly bloody war that lasted years, to prevent further attacks?

    I'd expect them to be using 90+% of their effort for nuclear power, and a tiny bit elsewise for PR purposes, and aren't really interested in them.

    Why do I think that (since this is slashdot in 2013, not 2001, I have to say that)? Simple: what would they target? Israel? Where? They can't target Jerusalem, where most of Israel's government is, because the city is sacred to Muslims, as well, and doing so would bring the entire Muslim world down on them, as well as a good part of their own people.

    Anywhere else in Israel is almost as bad, since (after the ignorant idiots here look at a map of Israel and the scale) Israel is actually about the size of New Jersey, and the fallout would do almost the *entire* country, Israelis and Palestinians alike.

    Oh, yes, and the winds would blow fallout towards Iran.

    So the *only* purpose they'd have to build one is for MAD (not the magazine, kiddies) with Israel, and it costs a *lot* less to pretend to be doing it.

                    mark

    • by Cassini2 (956052)

      In the case of Iraq, it was later shown that Saddam Hussein thought he had chemical weapons. His underlings were just lying to him. Also, there was at least one incident where people were killed as they inadvertently disassembled chemical munitions for scrap metal. As such, the weapons were there, and thought to be there on both sides. They just were not usable. It speaks more to the general disinformation of the war on both sides that the story is as muddy as it is.

      Realistically, both Iran and North Ko

  • Once again, where did the first claim of Iran's nuke development capabilities originate?

    Clinton appointed republicon, Cohen, as his SecDef, who appointed Chris Mellon (perhaps you've heard of Bank of New York Mellon, and the Mellon family????) to a high position in the DIA, who then, around 2001/2002 period, sounded the "alarm" about Iran's so-called nuke capability (Iran and consulted with a Dick Cheney-led company, Halliburton, illegal under the existing sanctions, about future development and they rec

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