Friday, September 25, 2009

Latest Moves on Iran's Nuclear Chessboard



Before President Ahmadinejad's visit to the UN this week, the United States appeared to have pulled off a masterstroke of diplomacy. President Obama decided to scrap the controversial missile defense shield, and it was obvious to most observers that one of the intended consequences of the move would be to sign up the Russians for further potential sanctions to be used against Iran, in the West's drive to coerce it into stopping its nuclear enrichment activities- an activity Iran has the legitimate right to pursue as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Western observers appeared confident that the Islamic Republic was rapidly being placed into a diplomatic box, from where it could no longer wiggle.

Surprise! President Ahmadinejad shows up in New York, and in one of his many interviews, makes an informal request to purchase- of all things- medium enriched uranium from the United States. In addition to that, Ahmadinejad stated that Iran is willing to have its nuclear experts meet with scientists from the United States and other world powers, as a confidence-building measure aimed at resolving concerns about its nuclear program.

Now, it turns out that on Monday, the IAEA was told by Iran that it is in construction of a new pilot fuel enrichment facility. Media sources describe the new facility to be located near Qom, 160 kilometers southwest of Tehran. Contrary to the way this newly disclosed nuclear facility is being depicted in the Western media, the Iranians were under no obligation to disclose this nuclear site until six months before they introduce nuclear materials into it, per established IAEA procedure. They've done this.

These clever, chess-like moves by Iran were surmised well by a commentator at the ACW blog:

1. Under the NPT obligations Iran signed, it has to announce nuclear facilities to the IAEA only 6 months before introducing nuclear material to such a facility. The alleged “secrecy” is thereby a non issue as the facility is not yet in use and was announced to the IAEA on Monday.

2. The NYT says it is a small site for only 3,000 centrifuges. Such a site does NOT make sense to be used as a secondary for the big 50,000 centrifuges (planned end state) site in Natanz.

3. Ahmedinejad asked Thursday for U.S. supply for the Tehran research reactor, which was launched with U.S. help in 1968. That 5 MW reactor has medical and scientific use. It runs with medium enriched Uranium–i.e. 18-20% enrichment–and is under IAEA control.

4. Iran can not make, without some serious re-engineering, such fuel in Natanz.

5. An extra 3,000 centrifuge site makes perfect sense to enrich especially for the Tehran research reactor.

6. Now Iran can say: “Either sell us fuel for the research reactor or we, unfortunately, will have to make that fuel ourselves at the new site.”

Colonel Pat Lang over at his Sic Semper Tyrannis blog put it best, where he said: "Outwitted again!! Damnation!! How do these Iranians do it?"

--MARK PYRUZ

6 comments:

Paul Iddon said...

love the picture
really illustrates the title =)

the Pat Lang comment is also amusing!

Mark Pyruz said...

Thanks Paul.

I acquired some rudimentary photoshop skills as a magazine publisher in the 90's. Still remember a few.

Pat Lang is great. Really colorful career as a Special Forces and Intelligence officer. It be great to have an opportunity to hear him speak. I'm a regular reader of his blog.

smallrat said...

Good ariticle on Iran in the UK Independent:Adrian Hamilton: Rhetoric against Iran must be cooled for sake of the Middle East

He writes,"The admission by Tehran of its covert enrichment facility – incidentally known to Western intelligence for some time and produced at this point presumably with the purpose of loading the pressure on the talks – is certainly an embarrassment to the regime but doesn't prove the case either way.

Given the way that the US under President Bush and Israel have openly threatened to bomb its facilities, it is not surprising that it should choose to back up its programme with secondary facilities. Nor is it that easy to dismiss the protestations of its leaders that nuclear weapons would be against the religious principles of the Islamic Republic.

Just as Israel has based its security on perceived threats from its Arab neighbours, so Iran's attitude has been forged by the constant assaults of its neighbours and the West."

It's rare to find such sense written on Iran these days, even the excellent Juan Cole seems to have drunk the Cool aid.

Anonymous said...

Iran makes its final move and whispers in obama's ears : "Check mate"

Anonymous said...

Probably a smart move.

1. Under the NPT obligations Iran signed it has to announce nuclear facilities to the IAEA only 6 month before introducing nuclear material to such a facility. The alleged "secrecy" is thereby a non issue as the facility is not yet in use and was announced to the IAEA on Monday.

2. The NYT says it is a small site for only 3,000 centrifuges. Such a site does NOT make sense to be used as a secondary for the big 50,000 centrifuges (planned end state) site in Natanz.

3. Ahmedinejad asked yesterday for U.S. supply for the Tehran research reactor which was launched with U.S. help in 1968. That 5 MW reactor has medical and scientific use. It runs with medium enriched Uranium - i.e. 18-20% enrichment - and is under IAEA control.

4. Iran can not make, without some serious re engineering, such fuel in Natanz.

5. An extra 3,000 centrifuge site makes perfect sense to enrich especially for the Tehran research reactor.

6. Now Iran can say: "Either sell us fuel for the research reactor or we, unfortunately, will have to make that fuel ourselves at the new site."

Clever chessplayers .... Have more faith in your leadership boys!

Naj said...

This is an optimistic view; which I like, if true :)

May I add this link to this post?

By the way, are you per chance a member of IRGC? Your blog's very pro-military. Or is this your deterrent blog? ;)