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How Close Is Iran, Really, To Nuclear Weapons

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the big-boom dept.

News 299

Lasrick writes "A Reuters blog post by Yousaf Butt explains the science, or lack thereof, behind recent claims that Iran is closer to building the bomb. Butt has been writing in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, most recently blasting the unsourced AP 'Iranian graph' that claimed to show nuclear testing activity as well as the Washington Post story about Iran's alleged order of 100,000 magnets for their centrifuges."

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299 comments

Yousaf Butt? (5, Funny)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | about a year ago | (#43003243)

I want to make a joke about his name, but I just can't bring myself to take such an easy shot.

Re:Yousaf Butt? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43003839)

It's okay. I'm sure he's the butt of many jokes.

Re:Yousaf Butt? (2, Funny)

Karl Cocknozzle (514413) | about a year ago | (#43003935)

I want to make a joke about his name, but I just can't bring myself to take such an easy shot.

True. The poor guy has probably been the... uh... you-know-what (wink-wink) of jokes for many years...

Re:Yousaf Butt? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43004485)

Not many would pass up on an easy shot to the Butt.

Yousaf Butt (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43003265)

I think Bart tricked Moe into looking for this bar patron on one episode

-- MyLongNickName

captcha: sideshow (Bob)

How Close? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43003315)

I suspect if they stopped exporting their sweet, sweet oil then they would get closer to nuclear weapons at approximately Mach 3 speed.

Iran and Chemical Weapons (5, Interesting)

catchblue22 (1004569) | about a year ago | (#43004717)

It is telling that during the Iran Iraq war, when Iraq used chemical weapons on Iranians, Iran did not respond in kind. In truth, it seems likely that many in the Iranian political class look at weapons of mass destruction with disgust. That said, they are obviously pursuing nuclear weapons to some degree. A source that I have, who is quite plugged into these things thinks that Iran wants to get a few months away from having nuclear weapons, and then hold short.

Promises! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43003341)

Don't worry, Obama promised us that he will not allow Iran to have nuclear weapons.

The IAEA has no actual evidence (5, Informative)

maweki (999634) | about a year ago | (#43003359)

Last year in an IAEA report they said that iran doesn't refine its uranium to weapon's grade but to a metallic form that can be used in reactors but can not be refined further. Now Aljazeera writes: The IAEA's report showed "no evidence of diversion of material and nuclear activities towards military purposes,"
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2013/02/2013221224353882956.html [aljazeera.com]

It seems that the IAEA has in all their reports strong indications that the nuclear program is peaceful. So IAEA officials have been denied access to military installations which are not covered by the Nuclear non proliferation treaty. And even then, Iran has allowed inspections at a later date even though the IAEA has no right to do so (it wouldn't have in any other nation as well).
I have the distinct feeling that western media is very biased. But it was with Iraq's WMDs (or lack thereof) as well.

Re:The IAEA has no actual evidence (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43003417)

"western media is very biased," he said, linking to Al Jazeera...

Re:The IAEA has no actual evidence (4, Insightful)

maweki (999634) | about a year ago | (#43003549)

Al Jazeera English is one of the most respected and most neutral networks in the world. Yeah, they are biased about Qatar and Syria (everybody knows that). But Al Gore didn't sell his TV Station to a Jihadist Network. It is a well respected organization that has guests like Neil de Grasse Thyson or Gary Johnson (which are not known for supporting Anti-Americanism).

Al Jazeera *was* (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43003725)

They're bleeding staff [rt.com] right now. Statistics show how their coverage chagned when Bush threatened to bomb [usatoday.com] their headquarters. It was probably a bluff to manipulate them, but still, a distinct change shows some bias. The real question is "who's funding them and what's their motive?" just like Fox News' pretend right-wing slant and MS-NBC's pretend left-wing slant.

Re:Al Jazeera *was* (4, Informative)

maweki (999634) | about a year ago | (#43003891)

"who's funding them"
Qatar. And their feud with Assad possibly dictates the Syria coverage. But there's no other money in the game. It's one family funding the operation from their oil-wealth. Not a plethora of commercial interests like Fox "News"

Re:Al Jazeera *was* (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43003947)

So you think a family of 001%'ers has less of a bias or ability to exert it than a disorganized group of companies advertising or their much smaller, but still disorganized gruop of advertising agencices? I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but damn, this isn't a conspiracy.

Re:The IAEA has no actual evidence (0)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year ago | (#43004571)

Al Jazeera English is one of the most respected and most neutral networks in the world. Yeah, they are biased about Qatar and Syria (everybody knows that). But Al Gore didn't sell his TV Station to a Jihadist Network. It is a well respected organization that has guests like Neil de Grasse Thyson or Gary Johnson (which are not known for supporting Anti-Americanism).

Then why do they come astroturf bullshit on slashdot?

Re:The IAEA has no actual evidence (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43003419)

yeah, that report also said Iran wasn't exactly being forthcoming about certain locations and installations.

Re:The IAEA has no actual evidence (2, Insightful)

mblase (200735) | about a year ago | (#43003585)

Iran has been VERY good at making the West look like the bad guys in this, and every other, disagreement. Basically, it's extremely hard to know whether Iran is actually actually hiding a nuclear weapons program, or whether they're just making it look like they're hiding a nuclear weapons program. It's quite possible they're doing both. Lord Vetinari would applaud.

The good news is that Israel probably has a better idea than the IAEA as to when Iran will actually be able to launch a nuclear weapon, and Israel will keep that information close to their chest as well.

In the end, it's all just posturing for more respect from other nations. Iran isn't reckless enough to actually do anything that would end in the entire Western world declaring war on them in response.

Re:The IAEA has no actual evidence (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43003847)

In the end, it's all just posturing for more respect from other nations. Iran isn't reckless enough to actually do anything that would end in the entire Western world declaring war on them in response.

That would be all well and good if certain movers and shakers within the west weren't agitating significantly with a view to starting a war. Frankly these people and their pawns should be incarcerated and their assets seized. If a drunk teenager can be arrested for suggesting on facebook a riot that doesn't even happen then how is it that those in the media pushing for wars that will result in tens of thousands dead can walk away scott free?

Re:The IAEA has no actual evidence (5, Insightful)

runeghost (2509522) | about a year ago | (#43004795)

'Israel' has been claiming that Iran is going to have a nuclear weapon "in under 36 months" or some other value of foo months, for over a decade. They've completely discredited themselves on this front, as has the United States.

Re:The IAEA has no actual evidence (5, Informative)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#43003709)

Last year in an IAEA report they said that iran doesn't refine its uranium to weapon's grade but to a metallic form that can be used in reactors but can not be refined further.

No such form exists. You can always react it with fluorine, do the centrifuge thing, and thereby increase the concentration of uranium 235. And since it is a higher grade than what Iran started with, it requires less energy to close the gap to weapon grade.

It seems that the IAEA has in all their reports strong indications that the nuclear program is peaceful.

No it doesn't. The statement you quote "no evidence of diversion of material and nuclear activities towards military purposes," just means that Iran currently isn't diverting that material to military purposes. That will come later when they have enough material and otherwise working fission bombs to use that material.

You don't admit you have nukes until you set one off openly. That's how several of the other nuclear powers did it.

Re:The IAEA has no actual evidence (4, Insightful)

guanxi (216397) | about a year ago | (#43004145)

The statement you quote "no evidence of diversion of material and nuclear activities towards military purposes," just means that Iran currently isn't diverting that material to military purposes.

It means that the IAEA has no information it can publicly reveal on the subject. "No evidence" is much different than "it's not happening".

Re:The IAEA has no actual evidence (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43004579)

You're absolutely right. There's also absolutely no evidence that the invisible pink unicorn behind you isn't going to stab you to death some time in the future

Re:The IAEA has no actual evidence (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43004229)

In theory you react it with fluorine and get UF6 but that is not easy with typical fuel plates. First, they are uranium oxide, not pure uranium rods. The purity of the UF6 gas also must be very good for processing in a centrifuge chain (otherwise they jam).

It is true you can go back and enrich further, but it is a serious hassle.

Re:The IAEA has no actual evidence (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43004517)

Ask yourself a silly question. Why would a country that is awash in oil go to these lengths, including being the subject of sanctions, merely to build a few nuclear power plants? It makes no sense. The only answer reason that a country would go through all this is to obtain a nuclear weapon, because that changes everything. Come on folks, are you all really that naive?

Re:The IAEA has no actual evidence (4, Insightful)

bitt3n (941736) | about a year ago | (#43003961)

how is this flapdoodle getting modded informative? he says

It seems that the IAEA has in all their reports strong indications that the nuclear program is peaceful.

and yet the IAEA has indeed issued a report owning to strong suspicions the program is not peaceful. From The Economist [economist.com]

The UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), published a damning report detailing its concerns over the “possible military dimensions” of Iran's nuclear programme ... The IAEA's November report also indicated that Iran had probably already tested a sophisticated detonation system for an explosive device suitable for use as a ballistic-missile warhead (albeit the tests are likely to have taken place before 2004, when the weaponisation side of the programme was pursued more energetically than it is today). Informed by the IAEA's work and intelligence sources, estimates of Iran's potential timeline to nuclear weapons—if the country were to quit the NPT and throw everything into its programme—vary between just a couple of months for a single crude device and more than two years for an arsenal of three or four nuclear-tipped, solid-fuelled ballistic missiles.

Re:The IAEA has no actual evidence (5, Insightful)

Xest (935314) | about a year ago | (#43004035)

Might I suggest you go read the actual IAEA reports direct from the horses mouth?

They say no such thing, and the IAEA have been very clear in their consecutive reports for about a year now that they have concerns and some degree of evidence that Iran may well be trying to create a nuclear weapon.

I don't know why people keep spreading myths about what the IAEA has or hasn't said, it's very clear what they've said and it's publicly available on their website for all to see.

Who cares what some news organisation or blogger has said, what the IAEA has said is that they've seen enough to be rather concerned. Also, your speculation about what the NPT does and doesn't allow is false too - again, something that can be trivially confirmed by reading the masses of publicly available official documentation on the subject.

I'm not saying whether Iran does or doesn't actually have a bomb or if they are or aren't trying to get one, but I am saying that people trying to defend Iran need to quit it with the lies and myths. They keep making stuff up that simply doesn't tally with official commentary and documentation on the issue, that complete lack of credibility alone does more to damage their cause than anything else. The other side of the debate are far from perfect, but at least whether they intentionally checked them or coincidentally are just on the right side of the argument in this regard, they at least have facts on their side over issues such as Iran's breach of it's obligations, and the IAEA's concerns on the issue.

Re:The IAEA has no actual evidence (5, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#43004607)

Lets have some common sense here. Iran wants nukes... as well they should. If anything is going to prevent a US invasion, it's nukes.

Secondly, Iran has no use for peaceful nuclear power. They have an abundance of oil. Energy is basically free for them. Do you think they suddenly started caring about their CO2 emissions? I really doubt it.

Thirdly, Iran is under horrible sanctions because of their nuclear development. Some countries have even offered to build nuclear power plants for them, that would remain in foreign control but give Iran all of the power for free... and Iran refuses. Why is that?

The fact is, Iran wants Nuclear weapons. They are almost assuredly trying to develop them under the guise of a peaceful program. But, there's nothing we can really do about it. They WILL get nuclear weapons eventually. Short of a full invasion, there's very little we can do. It may be a year from now, or 50, but one day Iran will test their first bomb and then we'll know for sure.

Pretty close, I think (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43003373)

Israel has them... and if Iran squeaks loud enough, Israel will have no difficulty really giving it to them.
(It's all in the delivery.)

Define what "close" means (5, Interesting)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | about a year ago | (#43003395)

Does Iran know how to build a basic weapon? Yes. But then again, so do a lot of others.

Does Iran have the technological skills to make a war head small enough to be delivered on one of their missiles? Debatable, but inevitable and practice makes perfect. They could use some help with the CEP and range of those missiles too.

Does Iran have anything other than a uranium based bomb available? Not at this time. And the chemical reprocessing necessary for irradiated fuel out of Arak or the TRR is not a layup. Years, if not a decade.

How long will it take Iran to enrich to 90%+ their current LEU? A couple of months, tops. Most of the SWU's are spent just getting to LEU.

Of course, left unsaid in all of this is... would Iran ever use a nuke? Given that India and Pakistan have not (and there is certainly no shortage of nutters in those countries), that Israel has 2-300, the USSR a few thousand... I think the resounding answer is no. Persians exports are carpets and pistachios, not glass.

Re:Define what "close" means (5, Insightful)

crazyjj (2598719) | about a year ago | (#43003507)

Of course, left unsaid in all of this is... would Iran ever use a nuke?

Iran wants nukes for the same reason that the North Korea wants them, to keep the U.S. from ever invading their legs of the "Axis of Evil" (like they did with Iraq). And if you're a smaller country about the only way to ensure that the U.S. can't and won't invade is to have nukes.

So it's very unlikely that Iran would ever use its nukes. Merely having them would achieve their objective (stopping any invasion).

Re:Define what "close" means (4, Interesting)

medcalf (68293) | about a year ago | (#43003691)

Actually, I suspect that you misunderstand their objective. Oh, maybe stopping a US invasion is a secondary objective, but I don't think that's their primary objective. Their primary objective seems to be (if you take their word for it) bringing about a new Caliphate under Shi'a dominance. To that end, nuclear weapons would be a huge advantage.

Iran wants to meddle deeply in the affairs of its neighbors, maybe assassinate those who don't play along, support those who strike at Israel (HAMAS and Hizb'allah, for instance) and the like. This furthers their objective of establishing a renewed Caliphate that they control. So when they do those things today, the US and the Saudis and the Emirates and others fight back in numerous ways. But we are very, very, very limited in what we can do once they have working nuclear weapons. And so even if they don't strike Israel (which they might, if they felt it could bring about their objectives), their possession of nuclear weapons would be hugely destabilizing for the region, and not in good ways.

The two most likely responses though are that Israel would strike Iran to prevent them getting nuclear weapons (which might require a pre-emptive nuclear attack by Israel, given the range) or that the Saudis would also obtain nuclear weapons in an attempt to balance the situation and limit Iran's options. Basically, the Middle East is in the process of descending into an even bigger mess than it has been the last century, or millenium depending on how you measure it, and the US is not only not the prime mover in this, it's basically being ignored by all sides.

objective: respect [Re:Define what "close" means] (4, Interesting)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about a year ago | (#43003973)

Actually, I suspect that you misunderstand their objective. Oh, maybe stopping a US invasion is a secondary objective, but I don't think that's their primary objective. Their primary objective seems to be (if you take their word for it) bringing about a new Caliphate under Shi'a dominance.

Just as a note; they wouldn't be interested in a Caliphate; that was an Arabic hegemony. Iraq might like to see a new caliphate, ruled once again from Baghdad, but Iran wouldn't. They would like to restore the Persian empire.

--Basically, though, having the bomb would make them the big bullies on the block. It's more of the 90-pound-weakling-wanting-to-become-Charles-Atlas thing: once they have the bomb, they figure nobody's going to kick sand in their faces any more, and the world will pay attention to them, putting them back in (what they perceive to be) their rightful place as big boys deserving respect.

Re:Define what "close" means (-1, Troll)

ThePhilips (752041) | about a year ago | (#43004071)

Iran wants to meddle deeply in the affairs of its neighbors, maybe assassinate those who don't play along [...]

Still better than waging wars like Israel does.

Basically, the Middle East is in the process of descending into an even bigger mess than it has been the last century [...]

Countries standing-up, establishing independent (democratic(!)) governments and showing the independence? Intolerable!

P.S. Your dealer's address?

Re:Define what "close" means (1)

DarkOx (621550) | about a year ago | (#43004141)

I am not so sure. I really think we should not worry about Iran getting the bomb. What we should do is make it clear to them that IF they do we are going to overtly provide nuclear weapons to Israel, and the Saudi's and possible some of other more stable and friendly region actors. That might actually offer the region real stability for the first time.

Its kinda like the old argument about arming police with guns vs clubs.

A club is an invitation to argue; chances are pretty good there is a similar effective object to be used as bludgeon at hand or tools with which you might defend yourself. A gun on the other hand there is very little you can do about it. There is very little a cop can do to protect themselves either from another citizen caring one; so the incentive is for everyone to be polite and respectful. As you never know who if anyone will survive and exchange of fire if it came to it.

I really think would peace might be enhanced if nukes were distributed more widely. Don't get me wrong I am still anti-proliferation. You still don't want this stuff landing in the hands of non-state actors or states likely to topple from the inside, but Iran having the bomb for example would not need to change the regional power structure; if we chose to arm the others. It might end some of the saber rattling and provocations. Look and India-Pakistan. You can't say really relations have gotten worse since they went nuclear. While they still are not friendly they do maintain mostly civil diplomatic ties, now.

Re:Define what "close" means (1)

DarkOx (621550) | about a year ago | (#43004709)

Another thing this will do is tell us allot about how reasonable the Iranian power structure is. If you make it clear to them that the outcome of their continuing to develop nuclear weapons is that after years of costly development, suffering sanctions and other unwanted kinds of international attention they will finally get a bomb and perhaps some sort of surface to air delivery system.

What their enemies get is access to more mature; better tested American weapons at retaliate cost rather than having to do all the R&D and stand up the infrastructure.

If they STILL decide to push forward that says a great deal about how dangerous they really are.

Re:Define what "close" means (-1, Troll)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about a year ago | (#43004215)

Are you a fucking moron? Or do you just play one on Slashdot?

Now quit draining Rush Limbaugh's testicles, and get Ann Coulter's dildo out of your arse. You got some learning to do.

"Caliphate" is a term with specific historical context, and is profoundly Sunni in connotation. There hasn't been ANY kind of caliphate since the 13th century, when western asia fell completely under Turco-Mongolian dominance.

The only Shia caliphs ever, were in Egypt - hardly world-dominating - and represented a branch of Shia' that the Usili Shia' of Iran today would have found heretical and repugnant, like the Ismaili.

If you knew either any Iranians, or any real history, you'd understand that Iran has a "Vilayat" and that no greater government other than stewardship is permitted, until the return of the mystical, hidden 12 Imam: "Mehdi".

Re:Define what "close" means (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43004339)

The Saudis already have nukes at 24hr notice considering they basically paid for the Pakistani programme.

The US and Israel should shut their hypocritical mouths until they ratify the non proliferation treaty. After that they may be worth listening to.

Re:Define what "close" means (0)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43004419)

Actually, I suspect that you misunderstand their objective. Oh, maybe stopping a US invasion is a secondary objective, but I don't think that's their primary objective. Their primary objective seems to be (if you take their word for it) bringing about a new Caliphate under Shi'a dominance.

Do you also believe that the goal of the USA's military activity is to spread freedom and democracy? Can I interest you in a historic bridge on California's west coast?

Re: Define what "close" means (2, Interesting)

Huntr (951770) | about a year ago | (#43003815)

The only way to deter a US invasion is to have nukes. Iran does not have nukes. The US has not invaded Iran. Hmm. Care to take another whack at it?

Re: Define what "close" means (5, Interesting)

crazyjj (2598719) | about a year ago | (#43003915)

The US has not invaded Iran.

No, you're not looking at it from their perspective. Here is the timeline as they see it:

U.S. declares us part of The Axis of Evil, then proceeds to invade one of the other members of that Axis. The U.S. then becomes bogged down in that other country (thanks in part to our heroic support of the insurgency). This leaves us (and the third member of the Axis) with a brief window to develop nukes, before the U.S. can regroup and prepare invasions for us too.

Re:Define what "close" means (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about a year ago | (#43004483)

Of course, left unsaid in all of this is... would Iran ever use a nuke?

Iran wants nukes for the same reason that the North Korea wants them, to keep the U.S. from ever invading their legs of the "Axis of Evil" (like they did with Iraq). And if you're a smaller country about the only way to ensure that the U.S. can't and won't invade is to have nukes.

So it's very unlikely that Iran would ever use its nukes. Merely having them would achieve their objective (stopping any invasion).

That's one presumption. Some people are under the impression the leaders of those particular countries are insane. I'm not saying I'm one of them, rather that the reason is something that can only be speculated about by outsiders. We know what NK has stated that their goal is to develop nuclear warheads and rockets capable of targeting the US.

As a US citizen, my opinion is if they can't be stopped by peaceful measures (sanctions etc) before they have that capability, then we should pursue an invasion. I guess I'm a horrible person but NK seems bent on pursuing a course of action that firmly makes it an "us or them" scenario. Given the choice, I'd rather it be them.

There's a big difference between NK, and Iran in the eyes of this American. Namely, NK already has nukes, and have specifically said they have them for use against the US. Iran might have nukes soon (or already) and to my knowledge has not made any specific threats. Based one what I think I know about both situations, I'd support an attack on NK tomorrow - but not Iran. Not that it matters what a citizen thinks in the US when it comes time to consider war...

Re:Define what "close" means (1)

maweki (999634) | about a year ago | (#43003599)

Given the religious views of Iran's populous and the amount of Arabs in Israel and Palestine I would hazard the guess that Iran would abstain from contaminating the sacred sites of Islam in Jerusalem with nuclear fallout.

Re:Define what "close" means (2)

medcalf (68293) | about a year ago | (#43003755)

I doubt that would stop them for a moment. After all, the Muslims are constantly on about how we can't fight them during Ramadan, but they fight each other all through Ramadan. I suspect Iran would not hesitate a moment before killing millions of Arabs (the Iranians are Persian after all, and the Arabs they'd be killing are largely Sunni anyway, while the Iranians are Shi'a) and destroying Islam's "third holiest site," which became so rather notably about the time that Israel took control of it. Odd, that. In any event, I certainly wouldn't count on the Iranians being held back from striking Israel directly for these reasons. They aren't likely to attack Israel directly, though, mainly because Israel has a survivable nuclear force, and would immolate Iran in response.

Re:Define what "close" means (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43004415)

I love it when stupid people express their opinions. Makes for a more humorous Monday morning.

Re:Define what "close" means (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43004553)

Given the religious views of Iran's populous and the amount of Arabs in Israel and Palestine

Quick guide to Middle East populations:

Semites: Arabs & Jews ( yes, both ). Common throughout region.
Persians: Mainly in what is now called Iran.

Re:Define what "close" means (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43003855)

the USSR a few thousand...

Soviet Union? I thought you guys broke up!

Turning away from science, but still wanting tech (2)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about a year ago | (#43003883)

Well, a difficulty is the lagging of the Islamic world in science and technology-- they are very short in the skilled people needed for making a credible nuclear technology infrastructure, although Iran possibly slightly less than much of the rest of the middle East. Religious fundamentalism doesn't serve well as a way to educate scientists and engineers (...and that should be a lesson for the US, not just Iran.)

There was a good article "Why the Arabic World Turned Away From Science" recently:
http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/why-the-arabic-world-turned-away-from-science [thenewatlantis.com]

(Yes, I know that Iran is not Arabic, but Persian. The article title is somewhat misleading; it discusses Persian science as well as Arabic.)

Re:Turning away from science, but still wanting te (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43004189)

Well, a difficulty is the lagging of the Islamic world in science and technology-- they are very short in the skilled people needed for making a credible nuclear technology infrastructure, although Iran possibly slightly less than much of the rest of the middle East. Religious fundamentalism doesn't serve well as a way to educate scientists and engineers (...and that should be a lesson for the US, not just Iran.)

There was a good article "Why the Arabic World Turned Away From Science" recently:
http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/why-the-arabic-world-turned-away-from-science [thenewatlantis.com]

(Yes, I know that Iran is not Arabic, but Persian. The article title is somewhat misleading; it discusses Persian science as well as Arabic.)

Meh, just have one of the major clerics suddenly reinterpret a key religious text to indicate nuclear weaponry is divine will and then silence anyone who questions this. Hey presto, you've got yourself a country dedicated to develop nuclear weaponry!

Incidentally, that's also the answer to the article's headline: "One reinterpretation of a religious text away".

Re:Define what "close" means (1)

Kreplock (1088483) | about a year ago | (#43004217)

Iran doesn't need a missile or stealth bomber to deliver a warhead - a freighter hold or terrorist cell could also work. I don't say that because i think they'll do it (nor would i say they won't do it) but looking at the most expensive options and rejecting those doesn't do the analysis any good. And asking whether a country will use nukes is of temporary usefulness. This is the culture that fielded the children's martyr brigade against Iraq's well-supplied machine gun nests. After allowing the nuclear genie out of the bottle who can say what the next 40 years will bring?

Re:Define what "close" means (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43004619)

Who knows if Iran would use a nuclear weapon. Their government is more unstable than any other nuclear power, even including Pakistan. If their government falls, or if Ahmadinejad were in danger of being defeated (either electorally or via force), who knows what might happen.

Who cares (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43003433)

Who cares how close they are. In fact lets just stop dealing with it and give them one so they feel good about themselves. We are wasting so much time and energy on something they will eventually get anyway, the problem isn't having a nuke the problem is using it. As long as we are hypocritical in keeping them ourselves we don't have a leg to stand on in denying them to other countries and they will do everything it takes to get one.

Oh and giving them a nuke is with the understanding that if it is ever used outside their own borders we genocide their people and glass thier country. Apply the same to North Korea and anyone else who wants a nuke,

Re:Who cares (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43004623)

"If a day comes when the world of Islam is duly equipped with the arms Israel has in possession, the strategy of colonialism would face a stalemate because application of an atomic bomb would not leave any thing in Israel but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world" - Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani

"I am decisively announcing to the whole world that if the world-devourers [the infidel powers] wish to stand against our religion, we will stand against the whole world and will not cease until the annihilation of all of them. Either we all become free, or we will go to the greater freedom, which is martyrdom. Either we shake one anotherâ(TM)s hands in joy at the victory of Islam in the world, or all of us will turn to eternal life and martyrdom. In both cases, victory and success are ours.â - Ayatollah Khomeini

The supreme leaders of Iran seem to think they could survive a nuclear war or that their total destruction in a nuclear war would still be a victory

Summary Translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43003435)

Iran is developing nuclear power plants because it doesn't generate enough electricity to (efficiently) create nuclear weapons. Iran will use this time to provide more On-the-Job-Training for its nuclear engineers.

looking at his bio... (2, Interesting)

medcalf (68293) | about a year ago | (#43003447)

Looking at his bio [fas.org], most of his work for FAS seems to be arguing against missile defense. He seems to be [wordpress.com] a bit of an activist. Basically, he comes across [politico.com] as a bit of an ostrich about Iran's nuclear program: nuclear weapons are bad, and war is bad; therefore if the Iranians are seeking nuclear weapons, it justifies ballistic missile defense (which he's against) and possibly an attack (which he's against) to stop Iran from reaching their goal; therefore Iran must not be seeking nuclear weapons. Not exactly a scientific chain of argument, but it seems to be the path he's on (based on that last link, and two of his other articles that I read through).

Re:looking at his bio... (2)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about a year ago | (#43003627)

Yeah I guess advocating for the facts makes you an activist *eye roll*....what was Netanyahu advocating for again....

Re:looking at his bio... (3, Insightful)

wvmarle (1070040) | about a year ago | (#43003667)

Not surprised he's an activist; that are the anti-Iran people too.

Currently there is, as he argues, no evidence that Iran is trying to produce a nuclear bomb. The regime denies they want to, and the information we have about their nuclear program supports that claim.

The author mentions two interesting extra arguments, though. First of all, he admits that the IAEA can not check everything. It is possible for Iran to have a secret program trying to put together a nuclear bomb, and if they hide it very well, there would be no evidence to be found. But that'd be really hard.

And as soon as Iran has a mature civilian nuclear industry, they have a nuclear weapons capability. Which is fully within their rights as signatories of the NPT. This is a simple result of this technology being dual-use by nature. Many countries have the capability to build a nuclear weapon in a matter of months, but do not do this. By signing the NPT they agree not to, so to develop a bomb they would have to break the NPT (openly or not), and in all likelyhood expell the IAEA inspectors.

Anyway one key point in his argument I fully agree with: the problem that certain countries have with Iran is more political than legal. And in that line, the best way to prevent Iran building a nuclear weapon may be very well by actually helping them to develop the civilian nuclear industry they want - that way you can keep certain key technologies out of that country, keep better track of what they're doing, and, maybe most importantly, make the regime happy and take away any urge they may have to make a nuclear weapon.

Re:looking at his bio... (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about a year ago | (#43004093)

What has the world come to when thinking nuclear weapons and war are bad things is considered being an "activist" and raises suspicions that you are probably biased.

What's The Distance To North Korea? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43003495)

What's the distance to North Korea? That's how close Iran is from having nuclear weapons TODAY.

Given their intentions... (1, Troll)

brian0918 (638904) | about a year ago | (#43003521)

Given their clear intentions, how close should we be willing to let them get? If a thug on the street says he wants to kill you and claims he has a knife, do you call his bluff, turn around and walk away, or do you prepare to defend yourself?

Re:Given their intentions... (2)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about a year ago | (#43003637)

According to the NNPT Iran can have civilian nuclear program. But according to the West, they can't. Who's the bully again.....

Re:Given their intentions... (3, Insightful)

gutnor (872759) | about a year ago | (#43003765)

If a drunk thug in a bar says he want to shoot Bill Gates, do you put you send the SWAT team when he buys lead at a fishing shop ?

Re:Given their intentions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43003819)

What an asshole!, just quit bullying every country that doesn't agree with you and you'll be fine

Re:Given their intentions... (3)

CarbonShell (1313583) | about a year ago | (#43003829)

Name the countries that HAVE used WMDs, have invaded countries on BS grounds and support(ed) terrorists and dictatorships around the world.
Notice anything?
Now how is the thug calling the kettle black?

Re:Given their intentions... (4, Insightful)

msauve (701917) | about a year ago | (#43003951)

And just what do you claim those "clear intentions" to be? Even if they're trying to weaponize nuclear material (a separate argument), look at a map - they're exactly between Iraq and Afghanistan. Surely, the most effective defense against the popular "shock and awe" offensive warfare practiced by the US is the ability to respond with a "shock and awe" defense. Those in the "nuclear club" have been saying for 50 years that nukes are well suited as weapons of deterrence.

We all know where the Iraqi WMDs which were used to justify an attack on them were - in someone's imagination. And, the obvious outcome aside, if some radical group residing in the US flew a plane into a foreign building, arguing that the US could then be legitimately attacked in "defense" would be considered ludicrous.

Interestingly, Iran is a signatory to the NPT (although said to be in non-compliance, it does cooperate with the IAEA at some level), while Israel (which is believed to have hundreds of nuclear warheads) isn't , and has openly declared that they will not cooperate with the IAEA.

Re:Given their intentions... (3, Insightful)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#43004673)

A guy has just seen a gang of bandits break into his neighbors' house to rape, murder, and rob them. Now, I think this guy is an awfully crummy fellow --- he beats his wife, and molests his children. I hope he gets kicked out of his house to die miserable and alone. However, having seen what the bandits have done to a bunch of other homes, I know his wife and children will be even worse off if the bandits get to them. I'm in a bit of a moral quandary, but I'm not going to condemn this guy for arming up to lay some whoop-ass on the bandits if they show up at his door --- it's not the best of situations, but better than giving the bandits free rein.

If you're going to talk about "thugs on the street," please remember that the street where the violence happens isn't in your home town --- the U.S. is the real knife-wielding thug who's shown up on Baghdad Street, and is swaggering towards Tehran Avenue. If you're capable of a little self-reflection, your argument above justifies Iran arming up.

Close enough (2)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#43003525)

In fact, as close as Iraq previous to the US invasion. There is no better prediction than the one that you make it happen.

Who cares how close they are? (5, Insightful)

fredrated (639554) | about a year ago | (#43003539)

The point is to start a war with them to suit Israel.
End of story.

OR (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43003671)

The point is to ascertain as much accurate info and opinions as possible so the world has an informed response to Israel attacking Iran.

So let's see, one activist scientist against, well, pretty much everybody else. I don't think the world is going to do much after Israel conducts air strikes against Iran.

Invasion profitibility (1)

Carnivore24 (467239) | about a year ago | (#43003629)

It depends on how much money could be made from invading, dismantling, and rebuilding that region. If the probable amount of money that can be made is high enough someone somewhere will find out they are manufacturing a bomb that could vaporize the entire planet.

"Threshold Nuclear Capability" (5, Insightful)

rbrander (73222) | about a year ago | (#43003677)

...about 50 countries are estimated to have it. Sometimes called "Latent", but I prefer the "Threshold" term, it has the right connotation of stepping right up to the line and voluntarily stopping.

Nation that CAN build a bomb in months flat = Nation not to stage a major invasion of. (By the time Russia, Pakistan, or the US could marshal up forces to take on a nation of 70 million, the first bombs are coming off the line).

Nation that HAS built a bomb = target

And Iran knows it.

Understanding that doesn't involve liking or trusting them. Meanwhile this has to be the ninth time in a dozen-odd years that the "Attack Iran" nuts (after their Iraq debacle, "nuts" is the only appropriate word) have played Lucy and the Football with gullible US conservatives. The big windup, then no bomb.

Re:"Threshold Nuclear Capability" (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about a year ago | (#43004167)

The first targets would be the assembly lines, reactors, processing plants, and launch sites. In fact, the first that Iran would know that an attack had begun would probably be those sites winking away off their communications networks, especially if a nation with a modern stealthed air force was involved. Unless you have all your facilities under 100m of solid bedrock there's nothing you can realistically do to stop it. And even if you are under 100m, you have to be able to maintain air superiority for those several months, otherwise you'll have a 20,000lb bunker buster being dropped out of a cargo plane to deal with.

Re:"Threshold Nuclear Capability" (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | about a year ago | (#43004295)

Nation that HAS built a bomb = target

What nation with a nuclear bomb has ever been invaded?

Re:"Threshold Nuclear Capability" (2)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#43004809)

What nation with a nuclear bomb has ever been invaded?

Israel [wikipedia.org]

During the night of October 8–9, an alarmed Dayan told Meir that "this is the end of the third temple."[261] He was warning of Israel's impending total defeat, but "Temple" was also the code word for nuclear weapons.[262] Dayan again raised the nuclear topic in a cabinet meeting, warning that the country was approaching a point of "last resort."[264] That night Meir authorized the assembly of thirteen 20-kiloton-of-TNT (84 TJ) tactical atomic weapons for Jericho missiles at Sdot Micha Airbase, and F-4 aircraft at Tel Nof Airbase, for use against Syrian and Egyptian targets.[262] They would be used if absolutely necessary to prevent total defeat, but the preparation was done in an easily detectable way, likely as a signal to the United States.[264] Kissinger learned of the nuclear alert on the morning of October 9. That day, President Nixon ordered the commencement of Operation Nickel Grass, an American airlift to replace all of Israel's material losses.[265] Anecdotal evidence suggests that Kissinger told Sadat that the reason for the U.S. airlift was that the Israelis were close to "going nuclear."

moot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43003711)

if you have intestinal worms, you take a tablet to fix the problem.

iran with even the possibility of nukes is an intestinal worm.

take care of the problem before it's too late.

period.

for americans (2)

nimbius (983462) | about a year ago | (#43003731)

its an irrelevant question that only we are asking. we sanction the country into poverty in the hopes we can reign in a rising power that would upset the 'regional balance' of american dominance that ensures cheap oil and compliance through a network of corrupt foreign leaders. after ensuring everything from banking to foreign trade is nearly impossible, we rest our head in our hands and wonder, 'when will iran create this horrible weapon they seek to use against the world?'

Damn double standards (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43003779)

I see everyone's worried about Iran being able to produce nuclear weapons but nobody says anything about US already HAVING nuclear weapons, i think that being the US the only ones that used nuclear bombs in actual war, they are the ones the world should be worried

Re:Damn double standards (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43004111)

No one has ever used nuclear weapons in war. If you're going discuss this, then understand the terminology. A nuclear device is far more powerful than the atomic devices used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki...~15-20 kilotons for WWII bomb versus at least 15 megatons for modern bombs. They are not even in the same category. A WWII atomic device was far closer to a large / modern conventional weapon in "power" than a modern thermonuclear device.

We should kill them all... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43003863)

... because they're different from us, have no way of credibly causing us major damage, and because we NEED an enemy to justify the billions which are being spent on kickbacks and slush funds in the weapons industry.

Some of those billions actually get through to the factory floor and turn into weapons, so we need to test them as well...

Buck Turgidson says they already have nukes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43003913)

A pre-emptive strike is the only way to go in this situation.

Excuse me, I've got a call coming in from General Jack D. Ripper ...

Who cares? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43004187)

There's nothing scary about a country like Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. What would they do with them anyway? Use them? 70 years of history show how ridiculous that idea is.

All the information (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43004225)

Gotta love it when some random person out there thinks they have all the information, thinks that a UN organization would have all the information even as they are denied inspections. Its laugable at best to think that either one of them would have the intelligence from all the individual world governments. Wake up people! In this age, information is power, its not going to be shared with you, me, or ineffective UN agencies.

Stopped reading at "Israel said" (2)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year ago | (#43004235)

They've been claiming their regional rivals have been a year away from an evil nuke for probably 10 years now. Israel needs to STFU and worry about the 200 or so unreported nukes they have in flagrant violation of the same international laws they want Iran eviscerated under.

Re:Stopped reading at "Israel said" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43004635)

They've been claiming their regional rivals have been a year away from an evil nuke for probably 10 years now. Israel needs to STFU and worry about the 200 or so unreported nukes they have in flagrant violation of the same international laws they want Iran eviscerated under.

An earlier commenter stated that Isreal is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Which laws are they in violation of (regarding nuclear weopons)?

Commie govs should be overthrown, nukes or not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43004297)

It's sad that so many people refuse to deal with a problem until it can bite them in the arse, them personally, even though this problem enslaves millions of people on the other side of the world...

--libman

it's about trust (0)

circletimessquare (444983) | about a year ago | (#43004355)

i don't know where iran is on it's bomb making or lack thereof, and, outside of a select few in tehran, no one does

but i do know this: i don't trust a theocracy with nukes

saying this does not make me a warmongerer, a zionist, or a neoconservative

i could say "i don't trust a theocracy with nukes" as a citizen of russia, thailand, or even iran. i could say "i don't trust a theocracy with nukes" as a pacifist, a buddhist, or a muslim

i don't trust a theocracy with nukes

i'm sorry, i just don't

and no: neither israel, usa nor pakistan are theocracies

the government of iran is specifically structured such that ultimate power rests with clerics. that's a specific problem for me. and no, it is not about islam. i would have the same problem with a christian theocracy with nukes. it is about being a theocracy that makes it a problem to me. a bunch of grumpy old men who believe they have a monopoly on the word of an omnipotent being, with nuclear weapons? hell no!

i do not trust a theocracy with nukes, and this is a specific problem above and beyond all other declared, undeclared, or potential nuclear powers

Re:it's about trust (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43004749)

Israel is a country created

on the word of an omnipotent being

and gives rabbinical courts legal power, doesn't have distinction between state and rabbis because the orthodox talmudim are breeding like rabid rabbits, occupies, kills, maims and constatly starts conflicts in while persuing their goal of "greater Israel", yet you trust them with nukes that have been said to point to worlds (including western) major cities?

IMO the best thing the US could do.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43004699)

Is to provide "open arms support" for Iran and their nucleaur energy program. Provide a treaty that states that UN nucleaur proliferation experts open access to all facilities in Iran, while the UN and the US will broker a deal to help them get their nucleaur energy program up and running. This would benefit the US as a means of nucleaur export (de-weaponizing our current nucleaur arms that are apart of the de-weaponizing treaty), as well as provide a watchgroup to oversee the program. The US should also provide the engineering and material capacity to help out (education / infrastructure) so that a.. shall we say.. nucleaur mishap doesn't occur due to the low-quality parts that Iran must use currently due to sanctions.

This would do several things:

1) If Iran says no, then we can say.. then you MUST be building weapons.. we invade you now, lulz.

2) If Iran says yes, then we come off as the "good guy, we help those that don't agree with our "way of life"". We can then monitor their nucleaur program within the country, and openly. We also have a way to export all the nucleaur nasties that we currently have in stock, with no way to get rid of them. At this point, we can then further a bit more open discussion around better "green" technology / energy.

The Keshe Foundation (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43004733)

www.keshefoundation.org

Buried deep in the website there was talk of the recent US drone Iran had captured with Keshe's pantented technology. It is nuclear technology per se, but, safer, cleaner, and much more affordable. As all things in life, it can be used as a weapon, or as defense. All what is claimed is rather sensational, to see it in action and own such technology would be nice!

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