Captain's Quarters Blog

« Hagel As The New McCain | Main | What's The Rush? »

January 28, 2007
Iran Loses Its Bearings

The Observer reports that the Iranian nuclear program has more problems than successes, thanks to the imposition of sanctions on vital technology, and that their posturing consists mainly of propaganda. The disconnect between the public pronouncements of progress by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the realities of the failures in the system has the mullahcracy seriously concerned about the effect the international sanctions will have on Iran if they cannot develop the nuclear cycle:

Iran's efforts to produce highly enriched uranium, the material used to make nuclear bombs, are in chaos and the country is still years from mastering the required technology.

Iran's uranium enrichment programme has been plagued by constant technical problems, lack of access to outside technology and knowhow, and a failure to master the complex production-engineering processes involved. The country denies developing weapons, saying its pursuit of uranium enrichment is for energy purposes. ...

The detailed descriptions of Iran's problems in enriching more than a few grams of uranium using high-speed centrifuges - 50kg is required for two nuclear devices - comes in stark contrast to the apocalyptic picture being painted of Iran's imminent acquisition of a nuclear weapon with which to attack Israel. Instead, say experts, the break-up of the nuclear smuggling organisation of the Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadheer Khan has massively set back an Iran heavily dependent on his network.

A key case in point is that Tehran originally procured the extremely high-quality bearings required for the centrifuges' carbon-fibre 'top rotors' - spinning dishes within the machines - from foreign companies in Malaysia.

With that source closed down two years ago, Iran is making the bearings itself with only limited success. It is the repeated failure of these crucial bearings, say some sources, that has been one of the programme's biggest setbacks.

This is the conundrum for the West. We cannot allow a terrorist-sponsoring state to develop nuclear weapons, especially one with the millenial lunacy of the Iranian mullahcracy. Kim Jong-Il understands the doctrine of mutually-assured destruction; he's just trying to gin up an ante to play in the MAD sweepstakes. The Iranians, on the other hand, have a significant part of their leadership that would consider mass destruction and chaos their ultimate goal, the kind of situation which could finally produce the Twelfth Imam and secure the world for Islam.

Unfortunately, we simply don't have enough intelligence to know with certainty the state of the Iranian nuclear program. The Iranians themselves have made it clear that they consider themselves on the edge of success, and want to build a 3,000 centrifuge cascade to more rapidly produce the fissile material needed for both nuclear power and nuclear weapons. Eventually, they want to get to a 54,000-centrifuge cascade, or so they claim, in order to massively produce the material. On the other hand, the Observer is not the first to hear that this is a smokescreen intended to keep the Iranian people from pulling down the mullahcracy over what has been a failed program -- and a very expensive failure during a period of economic disaster.

Where does this leave us? In a similar position as in 2002-3, when we could not know with certainty that Saddam Hussein had eliminated his WMD. All of our intel said he still possessed them, and Saddam had refused to cooperate with inspectors even when he allowed them to return just prior to the invasion. Eventually, we had to make a decision based on the information we had, and the knowledge that delay and vacillation would increase the threat, part of the new calculation after 9/11.

The Israelis face that now with Iran. Iran represents a material and existential threat to the existence of Israel, especially with the new Shahab-3 missiles Iran has tested the past few years. Even without the nuclear warheads, those missiles could hit all over Israel. Tipped with nukes, they could wipe out the entire country -- and more than a few of the Palestinians -- in a few minutes. They cannot afford to just sit and watch the Iranians bring nuclear facilities on line without reliable, outside verification of their civilian purposes, nor can they abide Russian deliveries of nuclear materials without verifiable controls on their use.

If these events come to pass, expect the Israelis to act aggressively to protect themselves. And perhaps that's what the mullahs really want: an attack from Israel would unite the nation under their rule for the next twenty years, much more so than a narrowly-targeted American strike. If so, then the billions thrown away on this program will be forgotten as Iran continues its life in darkness for at least another generation. The sensible and cosmopolitan Iranian people will have lost the bearings in more than just the literal sense.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 28, 2007 10:53 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry is

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Iran Loses Its Bearings:

» "Iran Loses Its Bearings" from Bill's Bites
Guardian vs. GuardiansJules Crittenden The UK Guardian pushes the new line on Iran. The mullahs don’t really mean it, it’s all Israel’s fault:Iran’s efforts to produce highly enriched uranium, the material used to make nuclear bombs, are in cha... [Read More]

Tracked on January 28, 2007 4:04 PM

» Bill's Nibbles from Old War Dogs
An experiment in progress. Some of these are Bill's Bites posts, some of them are things I excerpted and linked but I'm sending you to the original post. If this works out I'll start doing it every day. 250 to [Read More]

Tracked on January 28, 2007 4:09 PM

» Iran Nuclear Watch:: Boasts of Nuclear Program Propaganda? from FullosseousFlap's Dental Blog
Readers: Please Vote in Flap’s January 2008 GOP Presidential Poll Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (L) shakes hands with Russia’s security chief Igor Ivanov (C) as Iran ’s top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani (R) looks on in Tehran.... [Read More]

Tracked on January 28, 2007 4:52 PM


Design & Skinning by:
m2 web studios

blog advertising


Proud Ex-Pat Member of the Bear Flag League!