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    Entries in crippling sanctions on iran (4)


    Iran Close to Nuclear Bomb production

    Iran had plenty to celebrate on its National Nuclear Day Friday, April 9. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unveiled the new "third generation" centrifuge which he claimed was capable of six times the speed of the machines in current use in Natanz and there and then proclaimed Iran a nuclear power.
    He had three more reasons to crow: 
    1. Iran's first atomic reactor at the southern town of Bushehr began its main and final test at high temperatures after eight months of test runs. If all the components of the Russian-built 1000-megawatt plant work smoothly, the reactor will finally go into full operation in June or in August at the latest after years of delays. 
    Mahmoud Jafari, who heads the project, said all parts are working well and there is no reason why the plant should not start producing electricity before the end of this year. On March 18, Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin also said Bushehr would go on stream this summer. 
    DEBKAfile's military sources report that the spent fuel rods from this reactor will soon be providing Iran with an easy and plentiful source of weapons-grade plutonium.

    2. So too will the Arak heavy water plant which Iran has been building secretly southeast of Tehran in violation of its Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations. Work there was discovered this week to have advanced by leaps and bounds and brought the project close to completion, against all estimates that the reactor would not be ready before 2015. 
    Our military and intelligence sources note that Arak and Boushehr will combine to provideIran with the large quantities of plutonium for nuclear warheads. This fissile material has advantages over enriched uranium in its accessibility from heavy water and light water reactors, its smaller size for a nuclear explosion, and its use in smaller and lighter nuclear warheads for delivery by smaller missiles.
    A former IAEA official, John Carlson, once warned that large light water reactors "of the sort Iran is building at Bushehr can produce 330 kilograms of near-weapons grade plutonium - enough to make more than 50 crude nuclear bombs." The process of separating plutonium from spent fuel "employs technology little more advanced," he said, "than that required for producing dairy products or pouring concrete."
    3.  Jafari also announced on the occasion of National Nuclear Day that Iran had uncovered in the central province of Yazd large new deposits of uranium ore plentiful enough to make Iranindependent of foreign imports for both its military and civilian needs.
    DEBKAfile's political sources add: These three breakthroughs on Iran's road to a nuclear weapon are radical enough to put Tehran in the driving seat in negotiations with the 5+1 Group (five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany) over its illicit production of enriched uranium and their offer to process it outside Iran as a compromise gesture. 
    Iran has shown the world it no longer needs outside help for reprocessing uranium up to the critical 20 percent level, which is a short jump to weapons grade and the fissile core of a nuclear bomb. Tehran has made good use of every second allowed by the US-led world powers' lame efforts to dissuade it from its nuclear goals by means of partly-effective sanctions, attractive incentives and diplomatic engagement, a policy which gained momentum after Barack Obama became US president.  
    Even this week, he was still telling Tehran that the door to diplomacy still stood open.  



    U.S., UK, France Poised to Seek New Sanctions Against Iran - Margaret Besheer

    The U.S., UK and France say they will seek new sanctions against Iran if it does not comply with existing UN Security Council resolutions demanding that it end uranium-enriching activities and come to the negotiating table. Japan's UN ambassador, who heads the Security Council Sanctions Committee on Iran, briefed the council Thursday on violations of existing resolutions that have taken place during the last three months.
        Britain's UN Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant outlined those violations: "This report set out a pattern of violations by Iran of Security Council resolutions - including two illegal exports of shipments of arms from Iran in direct contradiction of Resolution 1747....And if you add this together with the continued uranium enrichment activities of Iran, in violation of Security Council resolutions - of Iran's failure to answer questions to the IAEA about its weaponization activities, the revelation of a secret enrichment site at Qom, and Iran's rejection of the offer over the Tehran Nuclear Research Reactor - then I think you can see there is clearly this pattern of violations of international obligations and an unwillingness of Iran to negotiate seriously with the international community over the nuclear issue."
        French Ambassador Gerard Araud told the council that Iran is not respecting its international obligations and that there "is no longer any reason to wait" on pursuing new sanctions. "France considers that the time has come to increase this pressure," he said. U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told the council that "engagement cannot be a one-way street....Should Iran continue to fail to meet its obligations, the international community will have to consider further actions."  (VOA News)


    Iran successfully simulates nuclear warhead detonation - report DEBKAfile Special Report

    German intelligence reports that Iranian scientists have successfully simulated the detonation of a nuclear warhead in laboratory conditions, in an effort to sidestep an underground nuclear test like the one that brought the world down on North Korea's head earlier this year. DEBKAfile's Iranian and intelligence sources report that this development is alarming because detonation is one of the most difficult technological challenges in the development of a nuclear weapon. Mastering it carries Iran past one of the last major obstacles confronting its program for the manufacture of a nuclear warhead.

    After this breakthrough, the German BND intelligence believes it will take Tehran no more than a year to perfect its expertise and stock enough highly-enriched uranium to make the last leap toward building the first Iranian nuclear bomb or warhead. DEBKAfile's military sources confirm that simulated detonation of a warhead takes Iran to the highest level of weapons development.

    Using the example of Israel and other nations, Western nuclear arms experts have claimed in recent years that since the emergence of simulated detonation technique, nuclear tests are no longer necessary.

    With this hurdle overcome, Tehran has set about restructuring its defense ministry for the coming task of actually making a weapon.

    The new Department for Expanded Technology Applications - FEDAT was set up to speed up the military nuclear program. It is divided into sub-departments for uranium mining (to increase the output of the Yazd mines), enrichment (to guarantee the quantity of high-grade uranium needed for weapons), metallurgy, neutrons, highly explosive material and fuel supply.

    Wednesday, Dec. 2, Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said: "The Iranian nation will by itself make the 20 percent (nuclear) fuel (enriched uranium) and whatever it needs."

    President Barack Obama has reminded Tehran that it has until the end of the year for a negotiated accommodation on its nuclear program that will uphold its international obligations. However, tor Iran's leaders, progress toward a nuclear weapon is now unstoppable by any diplomatic means.


    Russia to sign up to Sanctions on Iran

    MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia will join any consensus on moresanctions against Iran, a senior Russian diplomatic source said on Tuesday after Tehran declared it would expand nuclear activity in defiance of a U.N. rebuke.

    It was a thinly veiled Russian warning to Iran of waning patience with its failure to allay fears it aims to develop atom bombs in secret, and hinted that Iran could no longer rely on Russia to stop tougher world action against it.

    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad voiced defiance on Tuesday, saying sanctions would have no effect and that no more talks on the nuclear dispute were needed with the West. Speaking on state television, he also criticized Russian action.

    Governors of the U.N. nuclear agency passed a resolution on Friday censuring Iran for covertly constructing a second enrichment plant near the holy city of Qom, in addition to its IAEA-monitored one atNatanz, and demanding a construction halt.

    Tehran said on Sunday it would build 10 more uranium enrichment sites -- a pledge that Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday was "not a bluff".

    Iran's announcement had been in retaliation for the 25-3 vote by the International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-nation Board of Governors, which sailed through with unusual Russian and Chinese support.

    "If there is a consensus on Iran sanctions, we will not stand aside," said the Russian diplomatic source, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the situation.

    By referring to "consensus", Russia could be leaving itself an escape hatch since China has been the most resistant to punitive steps against Iran among the six world powers.

    The source made clear Moscow would not move so fast to embrace harsher sanctions as the United States and EU powers, who want to act early next year if Tehran has not begun fulfilling IAEA demands for nuclear restraint and transparency by then.

    "We will be thinking about sanctions but this is not an issue of the next few hours or weeks," he said.

    Russia did not want to complicate the situation with threats against Iran.

    "We would rather have Iran cooperating more openly and consistently with the IAEA and showing clear steps to lift concerns -- which are gaining greater foundation -- than introducing sanctions against Iran," the source said.


    In his televised comments, Ahmadinejad dismissed the threat of sanctions and warned any "aggressor" against Iran.

    "Sanctions will have no effect. Aggressors will regret their action as soon as they put their finger on the trigger," he said.

    Israel has hinted at the possibility of attacking Iranian facilities if it deems diplomacy at a dead end.

    Ahmadinejad said Western attempts to isolate Iran were in vain and he criticized Russia.

    "Russia made a mistake by backing the anti-Iran resolution and we believe that their analysis in this regard was incorrect," he said.

    The Russian source said Iran's plan for 10 more enrichment plants did "not add optimism to talks", in a reference to talks with Tehran revived in October but stalled by disputes.

    The United States and its allies fear Iran will divert its declared civilian nuclear energy program to yieldingatomic bombs, not electricity. Tehran says it has no such intention.

    Concerns have deepened over Iran's retreat from an October deal in principle that would see its low-enriched uranium -- which is potential fissile material for bombs -- sent abroad for processing into fuel for a nuclear medicine reactor in Tehran.

    "The situation surrounding the agency is stormy now. We have a lot of difficult challenges," new IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano told reporters on his first day in office after succeeding Mohamed ElBaradei. Amano declined to elaborate.

    IAEA spokeswoman Gill Tudor said Iran had not yet informed the U.N. nuclear inspectorate directly of its new enrichment plans and that it would seek clarification from Tehran.

    Western diplomats and analysts believe the new enrichment plan may be largely bluster, possibly a negotiating gambit by Iran, and would take many years if not decades to execute.

    But analysts said the risk remained of Iran using an array of above-board civilian enrichment plants to camouflage one or two small covert sites geared to enriching uranium to the high purity suitable for nuclear warheads.

    (Additional reporting by Parisa Hafezi in Tehran; Andrew Hammond in Dubai; Sylvia Westall in Vienna; Writing by Mark Heinrich; Editing by Charles Dick)