Iran Prepares a Pop Quiz for President Obama
Iran has insisted for years that it has only the best of intentions with its nuclear program. Skeptics have been asking for the same number of years why the nation with the world’s third largest deposits of crude oil and the second largest estimated proven natural gas reserves feels the need to build a series of nuclear power plants to generate electricity and heat.
The strongest evidence found so far that the mullahs are hard at work to develop nuclear weapons was uncovered yesterday in the form of a secret Iranian document which outlines tests conducted by the country’s nuclear scientists on one of the critical components needed to detonate a nuclear warhead.
Intelligence officials and weapons experts who have examined the document, say that the device, known as a neutron initiator, has but one use — to trigger a nuclear explosion. An Iranian exile group had claimed back in early September that Tehran was trying to manufacture nuclear detonators. The technical paper lends new credence to the charges.
According to Richard Radcliffe at WorldThreats.com, such nuclear triggers won’t be found in the blueprints for a nuclear power plant designed for the peaceful generation of electricity:
“These kinds of things are specific only to nuclear weapons. Power reactors don’t need excess neutrons. In fact, excess neutrons are a great danger to a power reactor. Reactors use control rods to modulate the number of free neutrons available to keep the reaction at the proper level.”
“For those of you who haven’t figured it out yet, Iran has a nuclear weapons program. Otherwise, there is little rationale for a nuclear weapons program.”
The document, which consists of well over a hundred pages, is said by foreign intelligence officials to have been written in 2007, which comes as a surprise to the U.S. intelligence agencies who had believed Iran halted its research on a nuclear warhead four years earlier. Instead, the tests of the triggering device indicate a level of sophistication in Iran’s nuclear program which was not expected to exist.
Even the sleepy U.N. nuclear watchdog known as the International Atomic Energy Agency has reason to be alarmed. Former IAEA inspector David Albright, who reviewed the document for the Times of London which first reported on the technical paper, concluded, “It looks bad — there is no doubt about it.” Albright said that development of a neutron initiator is a “very strong indicator of nuclear work.”
Nuclear warheads, of course, are credible threats only if the nation which is in possession of them also has the capability to deliver such weapons of mass destruction. Iran demonstrated this morning that it has made serious progress along those lines when it successfully tested its longest-range missile to date.
The Sajjil-2 is a two-stage, solid-fuel missile with a range of 1,200 miles, which makes it capable of striking Israel — which Iran has sworn to destroy — as well as a number of U.S. bases and even southeastern Europe. What makes the medium-range Sajjil-2 a potential threat is that it is much more accurate than previous Iranian delivery vehicles. Plus, the newer missile can be launched much more quickly, which makes it more difficult to detect early in its flight path.
While it is not known if the Sajjil-2 is capable of carrying nuclear warheads, GlobalSecurity.org, an authoritative reference on defense, space and intelligence policy, warns:
“Historically no nation invests such large national treasury in over 1,000 kilometer range missiles to carry mere fire crack warheads and its companion nuclear technologies unless it is for nuclear weapons development, manufacture, and deployment of the weapons delivery systems.”
Iran insists that the Sajjil-2 is only intended for defense, but it also has insisted that it is not developing nuclear warheads. How will the world respond to the threat of Iran’s obvious development of nuclear warheads and the missiles to deliver them? Development of a medium-range ballistic missile by Iran is a violation of United Nations sanctions against the Islamic Republic, but the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog has repeatedly shown that it has no teeth. Europe’s leaders may or may not heed British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who said that the launch could lead to more sanctions against Iran. But existing sanctions have not prevented the mullahs from developing nuclear triggers and missiles which can reach out and touch targets as far away from Tehran as 1,200 miles.
Then there’s the United States, where the Obama Administration has been working for the better part of a year to re-task the nation’s role from that of the world’s leading superpower to just another unexceptional country from which the rest of the world has little to fear. Our rookie president may soon have to take that test that Joe Biden predicted, back in October of 2008. More than a few observers don’t get the impression that the student has been studying very hard for it, and it’s the sort of exam that doesn’t lend itself well to last-minute cramming. The time to “gird our loins” may well be upon us before we’re ready for it.