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November 19, 2005
Iranians Admit Getting Blueprint For Nuclear Warhead

It looks like Iran had plans for the top of that new Shahab-3 rocket they have recently tested -- the one that can pitch a warhead over 1200 miles. According to the Guardian (UK), the Iranians now admit they received plans for a nuclear warhead from the AQ Khan network:

International suspicion of Iran's nuclear programme heightened yesterday when it was revealed that Tehran had obtained a blueprint showing how to build the core of a nuclear warhead.

Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told diplomats that his inspectors had recently obtained documents from Tehran showing that the Iranians had been given various instructions on processing uranium hexafluoride gas and casting and enriching uranium. These had been obtained via the black market in nuclear technology headed by the disgraced Pakistani scientist, Abdul Qadeer Khan. ...

United Nations inspectors had long suspected that the Khan network had helped Iran, but this was the first time the Iranians had come clean on the issue. They told the inspectors they had not sought the information, but that the Khan network had supplied the documents anyway.

This claim stretched credulity among diplomats and nuclear experts, and reinforced their conviction that Tehran is determined to acquire the capacity and knowhow for nuclear weapons.

No, really -- we didn't want the bomb. It came automatically whenever anyone purchased their first 1,000 centrifuges! Only an idiot would believe that the Khan network just blithely handed out that kind of information unsolicited, and only the Iranians would believe the West to be precisely that stupid. Meanwhile, the Iranians showed their embarrassment at having been caught by the IAEA in another lie by announcing their intent to continue processing uranium.

Will this finally push the UNSC into action? Probably not. Mohammed elBaradei has the Iranians ready for such a referral, but so far has refused to set a date to forward it. Based on the frantic nature of the diplomacy this has set off -- the Guardian calls it precisely that -- it looks like the IAEA wants yet another excuse to do nothing, rather than fulfill its mission and pass it onto the Security Council, where they can do nothing about it for several months as well. Why not pass the buck? Because the IAEA and UNSC know that that the US and UK will not allow it to sit there forever, and that a failure at the UNSC to resolve the Iranian stalemate will reinforce the reality of the UNSC's impotence.

We need to push the IAEA for its referral. Quite obviously, its efforts have done little to resolve the Iranian push to arm themselves, and now with their new rockets, the Iranians can start peppering European targets as well as Israeli and American military assets in Southwest Asia. They have rapidly become an imminent threat in the region, and if the IAEA and the UNSC can't do anything about it, then we need to start pursuing other options.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 19, 2005 7:47 AM

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