Friday, July 16, 2004

Those Naughty Mullahs!

Is it any surprise to learn that everyone's favorite theocrats are yet again being suspected of going shopping for nuke components?

VIENNA (Reuters) - Western diplomats say recent intelligence reports show Iran has been attempting to buy items that could be used to build nuclear weapons -- a charge Tehran dismisses as baseless.
The diplomats cited European customs information and intelligence gathered in the Middle East showing Tehran had tried to buy, among other things, high-speed switches that could potentially be used in a nuclear weapon and high-speed cameras the Iranians might use to test a nuclear explosion.
"They appear to be working on the planning for a high-speed nuclear implosion device," the diplomat said, adding that Iran had also been experimenting with "high explosive that would be appropriate for the core of a nuclear weapon."
A senior U.S. official told Reuters in Washington that these procurement efforts were part of an effort that has been going on for a long time. He declined to confirm the specific items mentioned, but said they were not "all new" to Washington.
"This is an ongoing procurement process. I fully believe that they're still at it, but I can't say that there is some new list that they're out buying right now," the official said.
The diplomats said their motivation for briefing Reuters was concern that France, Britain and Germany were enabling Iran to play for time while the trio struggle to find a way of enticing Tehran into fully suspending its uranium enrichment program.
Iran agreed with the Europeans last October to suspend its enrichment program, which the United States believes is aimed at making fissile material for atomic weapons. But Tehran never fully suspended the program and recently said it would resume production, assembly and testing of enrichment centrifuges.

TIME CRITICAL

"There is a recognition here that time is a very critical factor," said a non-Western diplomatic source. "The red line is not when they (the Iranians) get the bomb, but when they don't need any more external assistance."
A senior European diplomat said there was a lot of evidence that what Iran sought was "break-out capability" that would stop short of building a nuclear weapon but give it the ability to do so rapidly if it chose to leave the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
So we're now at the stage where non-Western sources are willing to inform Reuters reporters that Iran is quite clearly seeking to get its hands on nuclear weapons, while peace-loving and ever-so-sophisticated European diplomats are even willing to concede that Iran's ambitions have nothing to do with the "peaceful generation of electricity" that its leaders (including Khatami) continue to maintain is the sole motivation behind its' efforts.

Whoever wins the elections in November is going to have a mighty headache on his hands containing Iranian ambitions, and I suspect that even if it does turn out to be Kerry, a lot of European sophisticates and American "peace" lovers are going to find themselves feeling disappointed - not because Kerry's a bullying "neocon" or a "warmonger" at heart, but because the realities of achieving US foreign policy objectives will require the carrot as well as the stick. Let no one forget that some of the most bellicose American presidents of the last 100 years have come from the Democratic party: Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson: Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton are actually anomalies in that respect.