Iran accelerates nuke program

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While Tehran's diplomats are bogging down US efforts to stop its nuclear program, Iran is assembling centrifuges at a faster and faster pace, according to the UK Guardian.

According to diplomats, the Iranians are in the process of achieving a "technological leap" by making operational a cascade of 164 centrifuges to enrich uranium for power plants or warheads. A fortnight ago they were known to have assembled only 34 centrifuges. They are believed to be rushing to assemble dozens more at a time when western negotiations with Tehran have collapsed and big power attempts to develop a coherent policy are deadlocked. ... The operation of 164 centrifuges would leave Iran able to process only minute volumes of uranium. But experts and diplomats say the real value lies in the know—how acquired in running highly delicate machinery. The Iranians appear determined to configure six rigs of 164 centrifuges at Natanz for what they call a "pilot enrichment plant". They have also told UN inspectors they intend to assemble 3,000 centrifuges by the end of the year. [....]

"The Iranians are pushing ahead, marking out their intentions clearly," said a European diplomat. Another added: "It will be almost impossible to get them to give up, to come back down to zero."

Meanwhile, Russia and China are running interference for Tehran, blocking any progress at the UN. Behind the scenes, the French may be sabotaging us as well. Dominique de Villepin, who ambushed Colin Powell at the UN in the runup to the Iraq War, is now Prime Minister of France. Jacques Chirac is still head of state. But the French may be content to let the Russians and Chinese take the heat.

Nobody wants Tehran to have nukes. Russia is easily within range of its missiles, as are Paris and London. But Putin has apparently decided to help the Iranians to develop weapons, in return for their promise to stop helping the Chechen rebels against Moscow. Plus the money, of course. Saddam was able to buy influence in France, Russia, China and the UN. Iran must be paying off many of the same people.

Look for trouble ahead. 

James Lewis   3 24 06

While Tehran's diplomats are bogging down US efforts to stop its nuclear program, Iran is assembling centrifuges at a faster and faster pace, according to the UK Guardian.

According to diplomats, the Iranians are in the process of achieving a "technological leap" by making operational a cascade of 164 centrifuges to enrich uranium for power plants or warheads. A fortnight ago they were known to have assembled only 34 centrifuges. They are believed to be rushing to assemble dozens more at a time when western negotiations with Tehran have collapsed and big power attempts to develop a coherent policy are deadlocked. ... The operation of 164 centrifuges would leave Iran able to process only minute volumes of uranium. But experts and diplomats say the real value lies in the know—how acquired in running highly delicate machinery. The Iranians appear determined to configure six rigs of 164 centrifuges at Natanz for what they call a "pilot enrichment plant". They have also told UN inspectors they intend to assemble 3,000 centrifuges by the end of the year. [....]

"The Iranians are pushing ahead, marking out their intentions clearly," said a European diplomat. Another added: "It will be almost impossible to get them to give up, to come back down to zero."

Meanwhile, Russia and China are running interference for Tehran, blocking any progress at the UN. Behind the scenes, the French may be sabotaging us as well. Dominique de Villepin, who ambushed Colin Powell at the UN in the runup to the Iraq War, is now Prime Minister of France. Jacques Chirac is still head of state. But the French may be content to let the Russians and Chinese take the heat.

Nobody wants Tehran to have nukes. Russia is easily within range of its missiles, as are Paris and London. But Putin has apparently decided to help the Iranians to develop weapons, in return for their promise to stop helping the Chechen rebels against Moscow. Plus the money, of course. Saddam was able to buy influence in France, Russia, China and the UN. Iran must be paying off many of the same people.

Look for trouble ahead. 

James Lewis   3 24 06