18 February 2010

Does Iran Have the Payload?

Short answer - no one knows. The new Director General of the IAEA, Yukiya Amano, is a technician who is focusing on the ways and means by which Iran could acquire a nuclear weapon. In particular, Amano is focused on Iran's treaty violations. In contrast, Mohamed ElBaradei, who apparently has political ambitions of his own, has seemed more focused on keeping all parties appeased and at the table.
'In his first report on Iran, the new director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukiya Amano, broke with the more cautious style of his predecessor, Mohamed ElBaradei, and suggested Iran could have looked into the construction of a weapon, and that ­weaponisation work could be under way.

Amano's report to the IAEA board also confirmed that Iran had succeeded in producing 20% enriched uranium, a level of enrichment much closer to weapons grade than it had attempted before. It criticised the Iranian authorities for taking the step without giving IAEA inhttp://www.blogger.com/post-create.g?blogID=5002651818781399387&pli=1spectors notice.'

Of more urgent concern is whether or not Iran has any concern for an IAEA report or the threat of ramped-up sanctions. Iran has continued to test medium and long-range missiles, the latter with little success, which could be adapted to carry a nuclear payload. However, the thought of a medium-range missile with a nuclear payload has to be of little comfort to any of Iran's neighbors. Israel will certainly not stand for such a development, and Iran's other neighbors are feeling the heat as well (most are Sunni compared to Shiite Iran). Perhaps the greatest impediment, other than technical ones, to Iran moving forward with a nuclear weapon, is its inability to build up a nuclear deterrent (or conversely, threat). At best, Iran can produce a couple of weapons, and these would be untestable. Unless Iran is bent on a suicide mission, it seems unlikely that it would openly load or deploy at this level. More likely scenarios include a repeat of Iraq's verbal deterrence games, or deployment through a surrogate (e.g. - terrorism). Wherever the truth lies, it seems likely that Iran prefers a closed fist to an open hand.

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