World Affairs Update:
Nuclear Iranby Chuck Missler
The dispute over Iran's nuclear program has held a prominent place in the news in recent months - and for good reason. It is a considerable threat to our national security and will most likely have disastrous consequences in the Middle East.
Iran claims that under Article 4 of the Non-Proliferation Treaty they have the right to develop nuclear capabilities. Iran insists that it is pursuing nuclear technology for peaceful energy purposes, but that leads to the obvious question: why would a nation with immense oil and gas reserves need nuclear energy?
Iran claims it is building costly nuclear fuel cycle facilities to meet future electricity needs, while preserving oil and gas for export, but Iran's uranium reserves are minuscule, accounting for less than one percent of its vast oil reserves. Iran controls 11 percent of the world's oil reserves and its natural gas reserves are the second largest in the world. Iran does not have enough indigenous uranium resources to fuel even one power-generating reactor over its lifetime, but it does have enough uranium to make several nuclear bombs.
According to a report by the U.S. State Department on Iran's nuclear program: "The costly infrastructure needed to perform all of these activities goes well beyond any conceivable peaceful nuclear program. No comparable oil-rich nation has ever engaged, or would be engaged, in this set of activities - or would pursue them for nearly two decades behind a continuing cloud of secrecy and lies to IAEA inspectors and the international community - unless it was dead set on building nuclear weapons."
This realization leads us to another important question: if Iran is successful in developing a peaceful nuclear energy program, how difficult would it be to use that technology to make nuclear weapons? Nuclear power plants need 3 - 4% enriched uranium for fuel,but natural uranium only contains 0.7%. Thus, uranium must be processed in a uranium enrichment facility before it can be used as fuel for nuclear power.
What most people don't realize is the exact same technology and equipment used to enrich uranium for fuel can be used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons - it simply requires more passes through the enrichment plant. A nuclear bomb requires about 90% enriched uranium, which is high compared to the percentage found in fuel. But, according to experts, it requires more energy to convert natural uranium to fuel than it takes to convert fuel into weapons-grade uranium.
The director general of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has said that there are currently more than 40 countries with peaceful nuclear programs that could modify their technology to create nuclear weapons.
Iran May Employ EMP
The May edition of Jane's Missiles and Rockets reports that recent missile tests by Iran may have been part of the development of an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) warhead. Jane's cites recent testimony by Peter Pry and Lowell Wood from the Senate Committee on the Judiciary's Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology, and Homeland Security. (Wood was also a member of the Congressional EMP Commission, which released a report on the EMP threat last July). Iran has practiced detonating its Shahab-3 missiles while in midair, which has led some intelligence officials to suspect that Iran is practicing the execution of an EMP attack. The missiles were fired from ships in the Caspian Sea.
Pry testified that, "...a nuclear missile concealed in the hold of a freighter would give Iran or terrorists the capability to perform an EMP attack against the United States homeland without developing an ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile). Iran's Shahab-3 medium-range missile is a mobile missile and small enough to be transported in the hold of a freighter. We cannot rule out that Iran, the world's leading sponsor of international terrorism, might provide terrorists with the means to execute an EMP attack against the United States."Iran has openly admitted that it plans to convert 40 tons of raw uranium into fuel for nuclear centrifuges. That amount of enriched uranium would be enough material to create five nuclear weapons. The U.S. intelligence community has obtained copies of over 1,000 pages of drawings and documents intended to assist Iran in the development of a nuclear warhead. Iran has already begun conducting tests of a nuclear-triggering mechanism and has purchased at least six nuclear-capable cruise missiles from the Ukraine. The Kh-55 cruise missile has a range of 3,000 km and is capable of carrying a 200-kiloton nuclear warhead. Iran has also purchased massive amounts of beryllium, a key component necessary in the creation of a nuclear weapon.
Exhausting Diplomatic Channels
In November 2004 Iran agreed to a temporary suspension of its uranium enrichment program. Since that time, the EU and Iran have held six rounds of talks. The negotiations have yet to produce tangible results and the EU is still scrambling to find a long-term solution to the problem. In fact, the only thing it has truly accomplished is to delay the matter from being handed over to the UN Security Council, where the U.S. has recommended the use of sanctions against Iran.
If the issue does go to the Security Council, it is unlikely that any action would be taken. Russia and China - both of which have veto power as permanent members of the Security Council - have said they are against imposing UN sanctions on Iran. Unlike the U.S., which has enforced an embargo on Iran for 25 years, China and Russia have strategic interests in the oil-and-gas-rich nation. China has made plans to purchase over $70 billion worth of liquefied natural gas from Iran over the next 30 years, and Russia has been the beneficiary of multiple lucrative contracts to help Iran develop nuclear energy. Iran is well aware of this fact and has expressed little concern over the threat of sanctions.
The Great Satan
Since the 1979 Islamic revolution, Iran's foreign relations have been tumultuous, and relations between the U.S. and Iran are virtually nonexistent. The situation has become so troublesome that for the first time since 1979, the United States is openly attempting to support democracy in Iran. The U.S. government plans to set aside $3 million for non-governmental educational and humanitarian groups inside Iran that promote democracy.
The U.S. State Department calls the Islamic Republic of Iran the worlds most active state sponsor of terrorism. Iran continues to provide funding, weapons, training, and sanctuary to numerous terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Iran is governed by Shiite Muslim clerics committed to a stern interpretation of Islamic law. Hatred of the United States has been a key component of Iranian foreign policy since the Islamic revolution and Irans leaders often refer to the United States as the Great Satan.
Irans distaste for the U.S. is surpassed only by their extreme hatred of Israel. Each September Iran holds its annual show of military might, an event commemorating the outbreak of war with Iraq in 1980. Last year, Iran paraded its range of ballistic missiles through the streets of Tehran draped in banners with anti-American and anti-Israeli slogans. A banner stating Israel must be wiped off the map was draped on the side of a Shahab-2 missile, while a banner saying we will crush America under our feet was on the side of a trailer carrying the latest Shahab-3 missile. The Shahab-3 missile, whose name means meteor or shooting star in Farsi, is capable of carrying a one-ton warhead at least 1,300 km, well within range of Israel. Iran is also developing missiles with even greater range, including one that it says will be used to launch satellites, but that experts say could also be used as an intercontinental ballistic missile.
A Preemptive Strike
The possibility of a preemptive strike by Israel or the U.S. is the one course of action that seems to make Iran uneasy. Iran has previously disclosed the existence of a uranium-enrichment plant, which is known to have large underground buildings that could accommodate thousands of gas centrifuges. Some experts suspect that Israel might attempt to destroy Iran s nuclear facilities with a preemptive military strike, as it did in 1981 with Iraqs Osiraq nuclear facility.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has said that Israel does not plan to use military action to destroy Irans nuclear capabilities. Instead, Sharon has urged the international community to take action before it is too late. However Israel has made plans to purchase $319 million worth of weapons from the U.S., including 500 one-ton bunker buster bombs. These 2,000-pound bombs can penetrate walls more than two meters thick and could be used to destroy Irans underground nuclear facilities.
Iran has said that it will continue its nuclear program despite opposition from the international community. Iran has also threatened to pull out of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty and appears willing to risk international isolation. Should the standoff continue, Irans defiance may leave the U.S. with military force as the only available course of action.
As we reflect on the storm clouds gathering on the horizon, lets also remember that in the famed Magog Invasion of Ezekiel 38 and 39, Iran (Persia or Elam) is the principal ally in this ill-fated incursion into Israel. What is disturbingly problematic is the apparent hint:
And I will send a fire on Magog, and among them that dwell carelessly in the isles [or coastlands] : and they shall know that I am the LORD.
There are some that suspect that this could be a reference to an exchange with the United States.
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[Ed Note: A must read for the serious inquirer is Atomic Iran, by Dr. Jerome Corsi, WND Publications, 2005 (available in any bookstore).]
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