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November 14, 2007
Iran hands over Blueprints for Part of a Nuclear Device
From our "How'd That Get In There?" Department...
Iran has finally handed over the proof that their nuclear enrichment activities were not entirely peaceful despite rigorous protests to the contrary that fooled no one except those disposed to be fooled in the first place:
Iran has met a key demand of the U.N. nuclear agency by delivering blueprints that show how to mold uranium metal into the shape of warheads, diplomats said Tuesday, in an apparent concession meant to stave off the threat of new U.N. sanctions. There is absolutely no mistaking the purpose of those highly enriched uranium spheres. They can't be used in a reactor or any kind of scientific experiment. They are designs that can have only one use; a blueprint for the core of a nuclear weapon. We wouldn't even know about them if it hadn't been for a lucky accident and carelessness on the part of the Iranians:
But the diplomats said Tehran has failed to meet other requests made by the International Atomic Energy Agency in its attempts to end nearly two decades of nuclear secrecy on the part of the Islamic Republic.
The diplomats spoke to The Associated Press as IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei put the finishing touches on his latest report to the agency's 35-nation board of governors, for consideration during a meeting that begins on Nov. 22, Thanksgiving Day. The confidential report, expected to be distributed to agency members this Wednesday or Thursday, is likely to show substantial but not full compliance by Iran with its pledges to come clean on past activities — and confirm at the same time that Tehran continues to enrich uranium in defiance of the U.N. Security Council.
The agency has been seeking possession of the blueprints since 2005, when it stumbled upon them among a batch of other documents during its examination of suspect Iranian nuclear activities. While agency inspectors had been allowed to examine them in the country, Only an idiot would believe the Iranian explanation. That "black market" from which they acquired the blueprints was A.Q. Khan's nuclear bazarre - a network that never, ever sold any nuclear technology to a country only seeking peaceful uses for nuclear energy. Every single one of Khan's customers was seeking one thing and one thing only; the ability to build a bomb. For the Iranians to make such a claim not only strains credulity but begs the question of what other documentary evidence might exist that would show the full extent of their enrichment activities.
Tehran had up to now refused to let the IAEA have a copy for closer perusal. Diplomats accredited to the agency, who demanded anonymity for divulging confidential information, said the drawings were hand-carried by Mohammad Saeedi, deputy director of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization and handed over last week in Vienna to Oli Heinonen, an ElBaradei deputy in charge of the Iran investigations.
Iran maintains it was given the papers without asking for them during its black market purchases of nuclear equipment decades ago that serve as the backbone of its program to enrich uranium — a process that can generate power or create the fissile core of nuclear warheads. Iran's refusal to suspend enrichment has been the main trigger for both existing U.N. sanctions and the threat of new ones.
The Brits evidently wish to really put the screws to the Iranians with regard to sanctions:
Britain will push for a worldwide ban on foreign investment in Iran’s oil and gas industry and other financial sanctions unless two reports due this month show that the Tehran government is ready to abandon efforts to acquire nuclear weapons, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Monday. Such restrictions would be a crippling blow to the Iranian economy. Although not likely to pass muster at the UN thanks to Russia and China's obstructionism, it is still good to see Gordon Brown willing to side with the US on proposing a tougher sanctions regime for what is sure to be a contentius debate over what to do next about the radioactive mullahs.
In a speech setting out his government’s foreign policy agenda, Mr. Brown said Iran posed “the greatest immediate challenge” to the effort to curb the spread of nuclear weapons. He warned Iran that “it has a choice: confrontation with the international community leading to a tightening of sanctions, or, if it changes its approach and ends its support for terrorism, a transformed relationship with the world.”