There are three steps required to build nuclear weapons.
- You need to have a missile capable of delivering the bomb to its target.
- You need to process a sufficient quantity of enriched uranium to produce a nuclear bomb.
- You need to assemble a warhead and attach it to the missile.
Iran already has a missile capable of delivering a nuclear bomb. Last month, Iran conducted a successful test of their upgraded three-stage Shahab-3B missile. According to Viktor Yesin, former Chief of Staff of Russia’s Strategic Missile Force, the tests demonstrated Iran’s capacity to produce rocket engines that would give these missiles a range of 2,500 miles or more. With that range, they could easily reach targets in Europe. (With strap-on boosters, they could potentially reach North America.) Iran insists their intentions for this missile are entirely peaceful, referring to it as a “space launch vehicle” for orbiting satellites.
However, evidence presented at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last month revealed detailed designs from Iranian military labs for a nuclear warhead, including how it would fit in a Shahab-3 missile. Other evidence included documentation of experiments with warheads and missile trajectories where “the height of the burst … didn’t make sense for conventional warheads,” according to a senior diplomat who attended the IAEA meeting. IAEA Director General Oli Heinonen commented on an Iranian video showing mock-ups of a missile reentry vehicle that it was “configured in a way that strongly suggests it was meant to carry a nuclear warhead.”
Iran will have sufficient weapons grade uranium to make a nuclear bomb within the next two years. The European Commission Joint Research Center (JRC) recently ran computer simulations that modeled the centrifuges that Iran is currently operating at its Natanz nuclear facility. Based on the simulations, they determined that Iran could produce sufficient quantities of enriched uranium to make a nuclear bomb by the end of this year (operating at optimal efficiency) or by 2010 (operating at only 25% efficiency). Iran claims their uranium enrichment program is intended for “purely industrial purposes” to generate electricity.
The U.N. Security Council adopted a new resolution last week, imposing further sanctions on Iran for refusing to cease its uranium enrichment program. Iranian president Ahmadinejad beat them to the punch in making it clear that he doesn’t care. In a televised interview last month, he said “If they want to continue with that path of sanctions, we will not be harmed. They can issue resolutions for 100 years.”
Iran could assemble a nuclear warhead in a matter of months, once they have enough enriched uranium. The National Intelligence Estimate issued in December, which determined that Iran had “halted” its nuclear weapons program in 2003, was focused exclusively on nuclear warhead development. It explicilty ignored the uranium enrichment program, since Iran claimed that was for “industrial purposes.” Mike McConnell, Director of National Intelligence and primary author of the NIE report, later conceded that developing a nuclear warhead is, in fact, “the least significant part” of a nuclear weapons program. Prior to this NIE report, uranium enrichment has always been used as the key indicator of nuclear weapons development programs. Since the NIE report was made public, Mr. McConnell has expressed concerns about its effect in downplaying the continuing nucelar threat from Iran. On February 26, he said unequivocally “Our estimate is they intend to have a nuclear weapon.”
Iran denies that it has ever engaged in any design or development of nuclear weapons technology. They insist that all of the evidence presented at the IAEA conference last month were forgeries.
But Iran has a proven track record as a world leader in the funding and training of radical Islamic terrorists. Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has declared that Israel should (and will) be “wiped off the map.” Ahmadinejad was also a member of the Islamic terrorist organization that took 52 Americans hostage at the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979. This blog entry lists a Chronology of Islamic Terrorist Attacks Against the U.S. between 1979 and 2001. A great many of these were perpetrated by Hezbollah, which is funded by Iran. Hezbollah also provided explosives training for Al Qaeda operatives, in Iran, prior to 9/11, as discussed the post Sunni and Shiite Unite Against the West.
Why would anybody be gullible enough to believe that this terrorist nation is amassing all the means to build nuclear weapons “for purely industrial purposes?” Israel knows better. Europe knows better. Russia knows better. The U.N. knows better! Nobody in the world believes Iran has stopped its nuclear development program, except for certain people in the U.S. who, because of their own agenda, were all too eager to latch on to the now discredited NIE report, — and even they don’t believe it anymore.
What could be more menacing than nuclear weapons in the hands of a terrorist nation with a suicide bomber mentaility that has repeatedly characterized the United States “the Great Satan?” Is the reason we’re being so squeamish about acknowledging this threat simply because the left keeps calling Bush a liar on account of not finding any WMDs in Iraq? Could it really be possible that our nation’s leaders are more afraid of name-calling from the left than of an increasingly imminent nuclear threat from Iran? That’s a scary thought.