July 30, 2007

There's Something Missing From This Picture

The Iranian check list for civilian nuclear power has something significant missing, as the Guardian noticed on a tour of its facilities. Uranium? Check. Centrifuge cascade for enrichment? Check. National will to face down the global community to produce nuclear fuel? Apparently in spades. How about a nuclear plant in which to use the fuel for civilian power?


Before the Isfahan tour, a promotion film was screened showing the production of the first UF6 at the plant in 2004. The Iranian government also claims to have mastered the next step in the process, the engineering feat involved in spinning the UF6 in a high-speed centrifuge and separating out a variant, or isotope, of uranium, that is highly fissile - uranium-235. The work is being done at a centrifuge plant being built in Natanz, to the northeast of Isfahan.

Spinning the UF6 gas until it is up to 5% rich in U-235 produces nuclear fuel. Keep spinning until it is 90% enriched and you have the makings of a bomb.

That - combined with the fact that Iran omitted to tell the IAEA about Natanz until its existence was revealed by an opposition group in 2002 - lie at the roots of the global scepticism over Iran's programme.

But there is another huge question mark hanging over Isfahan and Natanz: why is the government in such a rush to enrich fuel, when it has no nuclear power plants in which to use it?

The Iranians have not built a nuclear power plant for this fuel type in the several years that they have claimed to have been working towards peaceful energy production. They hid the program for years, and as the Guardian notes, only revealed it after the MEK blew their cover in 2002. One would expect the Iranians to have invested in the production of power plants in parallel with the development of the fuel it requires so as to use the fuel immediately after it reaches the proper refinement level.

But Iran has done nothing along those lines. The only uranium-based power plant that Iran has started to build is the Russian-backed reactor at Bushehr -- and the Russians insisted on supplying the nuclear fuel for that facility. The Russians stopped construction on Bushehr over some payment disputes, which appear more to be face-saving manuevers to discourage Iranian intransigence over their nuclear program. Iran has broken no new ground for any nuclear power plants in the meantime.

So what will Iran do with its enriched uranium? If civilian energy production really concerned the Iranians -- a nation with vast stores of petroleum -- why wouldn't they be building power plants to create the electricity they claim they need? It's worth noting that while the Iranians seem reluctant to build the power plants, they have had little reluctance to building Shahab missiles with increasing range. Those appear to provide the final checklist item for Iran's nuclear program. (via Hot Air)


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Comments (6)

Posted by Fight4TheRight | July 30, 2007 6:44 AM

I'm sure the Left will have plenty of compassionate reasons why the Iranians have not yet built any nuclear plants. And perhaps one of those reasons may just be that the Iranians, by nature, are just flat out lazy.

Laziness, after all, has been a trademark of these people for years.

Iran sits on top of these huge stores of oil that the Cap't points out but yet they have what.....one refinery? or is it two? It's common knowledge that Iran imports the vast majority of its refined gasoline. Lazy.

Iran detests Israel. Iran has vowed to wipe Israel off the map. Yet how has Iran tried to affect the destruction of Israel? They've hired out the hard work on the ground to Hamas and Hezbollah. Again, Lazy.

Iran was all upset about U.N. sanctions coming down the pike. They were furious. They decided to send their President directly to New York to call the U.N. on the carpet ...yet he didn't quite make the flight in on time. Lazy!

Iran wants to take over Iraq. What do they do? They send over specialized IED weapons and hope that Sadr can do their bidding for them. Yep...you guessed it....Lazy.

The Ayatollah, outraged more than a decade ago at the book written by Salman Rushdie, demanded the killing of Rushdie. Did they send death squads out to kill him? Nope. They put out a "fatwa." And Rushdie is still alive, still breathing, still writing. Lazy.

So, given all of that, maybe Iran is just looking for some neighboring country to build a nuclear plant....then Iran can ship them the nuclear fuel and then Iran can import the electricity!

You certainly couldn't make a claim that a nation, which wants to spread its political ideology throughout the World and destroy its enemies, would just wait to build nuclear weapons as opposed to building up its tactical weapons and armed forces.....could you?

Posted by Barnestormer | July 30, 2007 7:31 AM

I believe the recognized nickname for critical infrastructure of a belligerent during hostilities is "Target."

Posted by LarryD | July 30, 2007 8:19 AM

The Iranian regime has been neglecting their oil producing infrastructure, and that provides 85% of the regime's revenue. They don't have enough refinery capacity to met their own needs, so they have to import gasoline. Their oil exports are declining at around 8% a year. Not because their reserves are being depleted, but because their neglected oil industry is decaying. They haven't even broken ground on a reactor to use the "peaceful" fuel they've been refining.

But they've been spend millions supplying the insurgency in Iraq, supplying Hezballah, et al. Peaceful nuclear energy, right. Not!

Posted by Papa Ray | July 30, 2007 1:26 PM

It all makes sense if you believe Mad AJ really wants to be designated the 12th Imam's deputy. According to Iran's majority sect It is necessary to prepare the way for the 12th Iman's return and the Rapture.

It is very clear what future Iran's leaders are working toward.

Ahmadinejad really believes (as his mullahs do) that Iran will become the center of the whole world when the 12th Imam returns and does his magic upon the population of the world.

So what does he need to worry about gasoline, inflation, unemployment or the like for?

All of the world's problems will be solved after his Imam's return, which Mad Aj is working furiously to accomplish.

Papa Ray
West Texas

Posted by nobody-in-particular | July 30, 2007 3:33 PM

I somehow see parallels between this and someone taking flying lessons but not wanting to learn how to land. They just don't add up.

Posted by hunter | July 30, 2007 4:24 PM

This makes Russia complicit with Iran to an extreme degree.
And it makes the Western approach to Iran in this enabling to say the least.
The irony is that Russia is very likely to taste Iranian made nukes, thanks to traditional Iranian support of Chechnya and other pro-Persian ethnic groups in Russia.