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February 8, 2010
Iran moves steadily closer to nuclear power goals

After months of conflicting signals on its nuclear intentions, Iran formally moved forward today on a significant change in its uranium enrichment program.

The country’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency informed that U.N. organization in Vienna of Iran’s decision to enrich some of its low-enriched uranium to a higher level.

While the ambassador said the purpose was for medical treatment, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the international community had no choice but to move toward imposing new sanctions on Iran.

Patrick Clawson, deputy director for research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, joins Daljit Dhaliwal to discuss the issue. He talks about why the medical use rationale is dubious and how the upcoming anniversary of the Islamic republic may be affecting the Iranian leadership.

Our German partner Deutsche Welle has more on how Iran has raised the stakes.

Is Iran putting itself on the fast track toward developing nuclear weapons?

Tell us what you think in the comments section below. Please be respectful and on-point. Malicious or offensive comments will be deleted, and repeat offenders will be banned.

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45 comments

#45

Of the 192 countries in the world, Iran only threaten Israel with destruction. Let Israel deal with Iran. The U.S. have too many domestic problems to police the world.

#44

I’m also a little concerned about those who suggest a hands off approach to Iran. The regime is like a group of unruly children, oppressing their people and backing our enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan. How could anyone be fine with them having nuclear capabilities? I think we should scrap the sanctions and take the leash of Israel. Nothing scares these kids like Israel, especially if we back them up with a few missile frigates sitting in the nearest waters. We say no for a good reason. We should stand by that reason with a promise of destruction rather than sanctions. They made war on us through terrorism, lets make it a real war we can win. Nuclear weapons should never have been invented but, now that they’re here, we have to control them. WE, have to control them.

#43

Mr. Clawson seems to have an above average command of the English language yet, he chooses to pronounce the word ‘Nuclear’ the same way as George Bush, why is that? It disturbs me greatly because it lends itself to muse as to whether there are more than just Bush-like idiosyncrasies to this fellow. very queer indeed. The fact that the overall consensus of very smart people indicate more sanctions are would be useless, makes me very suspicious.

#42

With today’s , IRANIAN GOVT.’S so-called[Punch] !
Ahmadinjad’s ..banter..or bloviation…is the forshadowing dream…but with some bumps along the road and the crippling sanctions …perhaps not so CRIPPLING ?…. IS IT SAVE TO SAY ..COME HELL OR HIGH WATERS ..IRAN IS GOING TO GET THEIR NUCLEAR DREAM….OR will the Iranian People get their Justices a ..GREEN REVOLUTION THEY SO SEE AS WILL ?? Will the Regime get their just deserts……KARMA . !!
Meanwhile …we’er still T A L K I N G
THE WORLD IS TALKING ,& IRAN IS ON THE HI-WAY TO NUCLEAR MISSLES ?? NEXT ? ..OUR POLICY’S ..is just waiting for the next shoe to.. d r o p ??!

#41

Why does Mr. Clawson looks so gloomy? The world is not going to end. The Sun will rise tomorrow.

#40

Perhaps our only hope is ..if IRAN..GO’S GREEN,
….not talking CLIMATE CHANGE EITHER !

#39

The Islamofascist regime in power has shown its dictatorial true face, and is racing towards the bomb at any price in order to (a) remain in power (and will not hesitate to turn Iran into the North Korea of the Middle East, impoverishing its people to do so if necessary), and (b)to further their dream of becoming the Persian Shia leader of the Muslim world. The road to Mecca lies through Jerusalem, and if the Iranians could deliver Jerusalem to the Muslims, that would make the Shia the leaders of a new Islamic Caliphate with its seat based in Qoms. It may seem incredible, but stranger things have happened in the history of the not too distant past. Anyone still remember the Third Reich?

#38

I am surprised none of the comments mentioned how a nuclear Iran would permantly alter the regionalal power dynamics. I am doubtful that the US is concerned about Iran attacking an ally. There is a greater concern for a growing arms race or security dilemna. The fact is #4 Chuck, this isn’t hype. You can use open source remote sensing data to pool enough satellite imagery to determine the amount of output potentially being generated. You do not need the intelligence community to compare images of Iran’s facilities and compare them to the DPRK’s. We know they are almost hte same design. We also know the matierial is being produced. We also know Iranian rocketery has had major improvements in the last few years. This can lead to some serious problems for the power dynamics of the Middle East.

#37

For nuclear nations to try to limit Iran’s nuclear technology is the height of hypocrisy.

#36

America is working on its 5th generation of atomic bombs, and is the only country that has used this weapon of mass destruction on the innocent people of the world. America is not in a position to advice others on this matter. America should leave the Iranian technological advancement alone. America should reassess its policy of hypocrisy and double standards in the Middle East that has disgusted the people of that region.

#35

Question,…if someone gets their head cut off,or and IED takes out over half the schoolhouse children,or a drone kills dozens of innocents to get one insignificant,or bombing entire towns,and villages for what seemed to be the correct thing to do at the time via search,and destroy,…it’s all “Barbaric”! Iran has done nothing,period! The West says they have, similar to what they said about (like a broken record?) Saddam. Think about it? What have the Taliban actually done to the West to provoke so much aggression? Absolutely nothing! Actually they helped the US covert operations in Afghanistan to defeat the Russians,and free up their country Afghanistan ,but now these people are now our enemy? Now,…let’s look at poor Israel who wouldn’t threaten any of their neighbors with annihilation. Ironically extinction can be used in death camps ,as genocide by bioweapons, the same ones the Btitish Airforce,and United States Airforce used in the first Gulf War against Iraq ,bombing them into submission while poisoning their countryside with uranium istope’s,and various strains of dioxine’s which to this day has drastically caused birth defects in the tens of thousands with no end in sight! Next,…let’s look…better said, glare at what’s happening in the, “Gaza Death Camps” where the Palestinian people are vitually being starved to death,…and someone says to me that it’s not genicide,or a slow death spiral of a culture, and it’s inhabitants. PS. Just look at the devestation to the Lebanese people,and tell me with a straight face Israel means no harm to it’s neighbors ,except for staeling all their land and sailing them into the Mediterranean Sea too drown,…can someone say mass exodus? PS. Stop the $3bn plus annual “Foreign Aid Package” to the 37th largest economy in the world!

#34

In keeping with the spirit of the question, I’d assume Iran probably is “putting itself on the fast track.”

That being said, I’m not in any posiion of authority or responsibility, and I don’t have access to non-public sources of information. In other words, my opinion (though not worthless) probably isn’t worth as much as those of others, though I can appreciate different possibilities.
Maybe it’s to threaten Israel. Maybe it’s to threaten other Arab states. Maybe it’s to build nuclear submarines to keep shipping lanes open. Maybe it’s politically popular. Maybe it’s a negotiating tactic. Maybe it’s a lot of things.

Countries like South Africa are usually used as examples of denuclearization. In the wake of Sputnik, many U.S. colleges were encouraged to set up small reactors for educational purposes (which were then often boasted of in college recruiting materials). Faculty and staff usually didn’t have the background to operate these things (and faculty were ususally more interested in pusing grants for other work), and so components often sat around in some dark corner for decades. Some colleges eventually got rid of the stuff, since (in their estimation) it was more trouble than it was worth.

Even if one has been an operator at a power-producing reactor and is a serious student of physics, chemistry, and game theory, it doesn’t mean that one has specific knowledge about the metallurgical engineering of fuel rod assemblies or diplomatic issues in a specific country. Sometimes it’s good to say, “I don’t know.” On the positive side, one’s unlikely to run out of things to learn in a short human life.

#33

In keeping with the spirit of the question, I’d assume Iran probably is “putting itself on the fast track.”

That being said, I’m not in any posiion of authority or responsibility, and I don’t have access to non-public sources of information. In other words, my opinion (though not worthless) probably isn’t worth as much as those of others, though I can appreciate different possibilities.
Maybe it’s to threaten Israel. Maybe it’s threaten other Arab states. Maybe it’s to build nuclear submarines to keep shipping lanes open. Maybe it’s politically popular. Maybe it’s a negotiating tactic. Maybe it’s a lot of things.

Countries like South Africa are usually used as examples of denuclearization. In the wake of Sputnik, many U.S. colleges were encouraged to set up small reactors for educational purposes (which were then often boasted of in college recruiting materials). Faculty and staff usually didn’t have the background to operate these things (and faculty were ususally more interested in pusing grants for other work), and so components often sat around in some dark corner for decades. Some colleges eventually got rid of the stuff, since (in their estimation) it was more trouble than it was worth.

Even if one has been an operator at a power-producing reactor and is a serious student of physics, chemistry, and game theory, it doesn’t mean that one has specific knowledge about the metallurgical engineering of fuel rod assemblies or diplomatic issues in a specific country. Sometimes it’s good to say, “I don’t know.” On the positive side, one’s unlikely to run out of things to learn in a short human life.

#32

Absolutely Iran is and has always sought after nuclear weapons. Israel and the US are piddling around waiting on the other to react militarily against Iran. Israel may not have threatened the use of nuclear weapons, but may well be the first to use them and you can’t blame Israel. If Iran gets the bomb – look out Israel, US and Western Europe. And, Russian being so smug may well have something to worry about as well. The problem I have with Israel is that it has a “death grip” on the Palestinian people which is unwarranted and Israel needs to place a complete halt on settlements in the occupied lands – that action only creates further hostilities and places Israel in a defensive posture in it’s dealings with the world as a whole. Israel needs to be concentrating on Iran the source of nearly all of Israel’s problems outside of Syria. This world will end as we know it before too long – as a Christian I firmly believe that we’re near the end. Jim @ USA

#31

Has anyone considered the possibility that Iran may simply twisting the tail of the West?

And as far as ‘vowed to “wipe off the map”‘ goes, does anyone remember Ariel Sharon, and his claim that Israel should put into effect God’s promise to Abraham that Israel should stretch from the great river of Egypt (the Nile) to the Euphrates? Nor was he the only Jewish leader to do so. Think of Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir …

By the way, there are other interpretations of God’s promise other than the Jewish and Christian ones. There are scriptures that can also be read as promising these territories to all the Semitic people — ALL the descendants of Abraham — i.e. the Arabs as well as the Jews.

It’s a shame that all parties can’t simply get together and share it and live in peace. A lot to hope for, though. And any such agreemnt would be complicated by the need to take account of the many other peoples of the Middle East such as the Kurds, Christians, Zoroastians, Baha’is, and so on.

#30

I’d say that most of your readers need to get educated as to what is happening and how not to repeat itself in regards to conciliatory steps toward Iran.
Make no mistake; Iran is going to go Nuc and the world will sit again, idley by as the biggest threat to the world.
Why? Because the media supresses the fact that the regime in Iran is a fanatical one; justifying the use and the sacrifice that their nation will make in order to see the next iman !
Hitler was dangerous, but didnt have the means to threaten the world; Iran does, and we again will capitulate to them !
Israel cannot be considered in the same context as this because they havent threatened their neighbors with extinction !
Wake up world !

#29

What short sighttedness some of you people have,into the Islamic tyrannical-Regime itis most
amazing . Iran Regime & Ayatollah[shadow of God]
say in their own word that of Israel’s annihilate
little satan,very hostle word that come flying from their lips tell their true heart .What do you say about their own injustice towards their people , open hostility’s of peaceful protesters !
REMEMBER ..IN World WAR [2] WASN’T
Iran so cozy with the the Nazi’s ?? It’s not so much is the Middle East ready for nuclear …it’s whos ever .. hand on that on the button..is the
problem that needs to be solved ! What is Iranian Regime’s true-intent ?? WE CAN ONLY GLEEM FROM THEIR OWN…WORDS THAT THEY THEM-SELF PUT OUT ….. HATE & MEAN-SPIRIT… those Ruffian’s ? WHY… are we not LISTENING ??
DON’T BE FOOLED !

#28

The price of oil is up today. Has anyone noticed if there is a pattern between inflammatory comments surrounding Iran and their need for higher prices?

#27

the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINP) is a highly charged lobby group for Israel. it is no surprise to see their propoganda on Netwroks, but Worldfocus !!??

#26

TR’s classic injunction to “walk softly and carry a big stick” seems appropriate here. The Iranian people are fed up with their current government, so the US should avoid provocation. Work behind the scenes, let the Russians and Chinese weigh in on the issue, and don’t arm the hawkish Iranian government with the same anti-American propaganda that served Fidel Castro so well for 50 years. It would take years before Iran has any way of delivering nukes; before then a second Iranian Revolution will have resolved the problem. Aggressive posturing only feeds the beast.

#25

The US and the rest of the so-called “First World” use such double standards, and your newscast falls for it every time. Iran is a signatory of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, and everything it’s currently doing is in compliance with its obligations. India, on the other hand, is NOT a signatory, and yet the US is supporting its nuclear developments which clearly ARE for developing nuclear weapons, which there is no question at all DOES violate this treaty. Shame on you, WorldFocus, for allowing this fact to be absent from story after story you do about Iran.

#24

You betcha.

#23

Why is WorldFocus getting someone from WINEP to push their propaganda on Iran? WINEP being a spinoff of AIPAC, is doing the bidding for Israel. I see some pretty right wing commentator from WorldFocus (like practically everyday during the Gaza invasion), but this officially makes this show an neocon mouthpiece outlet. It took long enough for PBS to shake off the WSJ Editorial Report and Tucker Carson show, now this right wing propaganda mouthpiece portrayed as “World” focus shows up. Cancel this show now for the sake of PBS.

#22

Israel stole its nuclear bomb technology by spying on Western nations while they looked the other way. They didn’t start from scratch. At least Iran is doing their own work. Israel doesn’t even belong to the non-proliferation treaty. Iran does. Maybe Iran should withdraw, then there would be no problem, right?

America killed 370,000 defenseless Japanese by nuclear weapons, many or most died horrifically. And America is proud of that. What does that say?

The same people who “knew” that Iraq had WMD; caused the 9/11 attacks; was linked to Al Qaeda; etc., etc., now “know” that Iran is working on a nuclear bomb and will use it as soon as it has one. It’s just a typical smear against a Muslim country. Iran has as much right to nuclear power as America or Israel or anybody else. And that is not to say that there is any proof that it is working on a bomb in the first place.

#21

Comparing Iran with Israel re nukes is utterly rediculous. Israel has had nukes for decades and has never used them. Israel has never threatened or vowed to “wipe off the map” any other country. Iran is building a nuclear arsenal which it WILL use. This government is one of suidide bombers, terrorism and no respect for human life, especially “infidels” which is everyone but the Muslim radicals. Iran could very well be the birthplace of armageddon. And the naive just plod along in ignorant bliss. Stay tuned.

#20

We are just waiting for a catastrophy. U.S. had to have the airplane explosion, the embassies explosion, 911 among other thing to wake up and smell terrorism. Now, it is not time for waiting. The result can be overwhelmingly tragic. It will definitely be a numbers of nuclear attack on Israel. As an Iranian American, I have no doubt. I just critize the U.S. goverment for being such sluggish and slow. i believe U.S. was better off to attack Iran than Iraq.
Please do not wait until supertragedy wonders us why. I am telling you why today.
David A.

#19

Yes Iran will build nuclear weapons, and once they have an adequate supply they will attack Isreal and the US. Since the US is driven by extreme left wing liberals, the use of a preemptive strike is out, and the US will get what it deserves.

#18

Lets put this in simple terms and tell readers what they don’t know.
Iran repeatedly has told western governments that if they are attacked that Iran will launch the 600 plus short range conventional rockets that they have targeted at Saudi Arabian Oil Installations.
If Iran has a Nuclear weapons at its disposal then Iran may be able attack
middle east oil installations without the fear of invasion.
Combining the above statements you may begin to understand the implications of a Nuclear Iran and the power over the oil-dependant economies of the world they would yield.
It not just about Israel, its about all of us.

#17

why, why, why, does america always do the bidding of the israel agenda? iran WILL at some point have nuclear weapons. good for them. israel has 200 or more nuclear weapons and is CONSTANTLY threatening iran and the middle east in general. syria last week. israel for some reason, unclear to me, feels a “divine” right to the entire region.
america has endorsed and welcomed the israeli agenda, as well as subsidized it for decades. america for all practical purposes is now israel.
the disparity is blatant and repugnant. the muslims are wrong by virtue of whaaaat??? the israeli’s are correct because they’ve more money and capable of a greater level of brutality? america endorses this process because….???? common sense, to me says, and more often than not i’m wrong, but…israel is a tiny country, surrounded by muslim nations who are constantly being taunted! they may win the battle, but…thankfully the war has been lost along time ago!!! israel has become everthing it once stood against and america endorses it, thereby guilty by association!
leave iran alone!!! check your geography and don’t be so damn shortsighted!!

#16

Nothing to worry about. Iranians are some of the friendliest people I’ve met.

#15

It is absolutely clear to me that Iran will attempt to become a nuclear power, regardless of any sanctions/”noise” that the West orchestrates The real challenge is to figure out what it will do with it ?? If it’s ONLY honor, respect, recognition or defensive use and NOT offensive use they want, then apart from the dangers of nuclearization of the whole Middle East little harm is done. Iran realizes that the inspite of their bravura and hostile diatrabe against their neighbors and the WEST, with it’s overwhelming nuclear destructive power, Iran’s nuclear arsenal will be just expensive & unused museum pieces.
It’s first USE not threat of use, will be reponded by 15,000++ Western nuclear bombs, Israeli, American & European. Even fervent religious fanaticism does not like those odds.
After another generation or 35 years of this kind of confrontation, Iran will quickly meld back into responsible membership in the community of nations; or at least let’s hope !

#14

the iranian people deserve a realistick government to make their lives better than cause them problems.

#13

Yes, I do believe that they are and have been working toward nuclear weapons.

#12

Why should it be of concern to the United States that Iran may want to and could develop the technology to create an atomic bomb? Whatever they may be able to do will pale in comparison to the US arsenal. Leave those people alone! Who are we to dictate to another sovereign what technology they can or can not develop?

#11

Why not. Israel has nuclear weapons and the U.S. allows it.

#10

I think that if the U.S. and the rest of the country are fullish enough to think that thay “Iseral” is not much closer to makeing their Nucler weapons a realty then thay are just as fulish and in the dark as the world was in peral harbor and korea and as hard as it has been to ifultrat, adapt to and defeat the taleban then the world will is setting it self up for anoter after the fact finger pointing.

#9

What Patrick Clausen (February 8) says is nonsense. If Iran has the technology to make uraninum hexafluoride, which is the form needed to feed the enriching centrifuges, it should have no trouble turning that into uranium dioxide reactor fuel. The cladding for the rods is even simpler. At 20% enrichment stainless steel will do. No need for exotic alloys like zircaloy. And as for only Argentina and France having the capability — absolute nonsence. Any country with reactors now would consider this problem duck soup.

In any case 20% enrichment s nowhere near enough to make a practical bomb. Pure U235 (i.e. 100% enrichment) needs 50kg to go critical and the critical mass goes up rapidly as the level of enrichment goes down. A bomb based on 20% enrichment, if it can be possible at all, would likely be heavier than and present-day vehicle could deliver.

Moreover, I can understand why Iran might want a nuclear bomb, if only to discourage the Israelis, what with all kinds of saber-rattling coming from them, who reputably have some 200 of them.

#8

Stop the music already! Ahmdinejad has declared
intent on nuclear destruction of Israel; he is
mentally-ill, has several nuclear facilities and
launching centers…we have allowed him to get ready for his own personal Armageddon….we should have taken out Busheir, Natanz, et.al
years ago…we knew he was a loose-nuke when he put the Atomic symbol on his currency along with
the Ayatollah. We are way late to the dance.

#7

Just ask the question: “If I were an Iranian government official, would I want a nuclear weapon?” The answer is probably “yes.” Someone has to explain to them the true meaning of MAD, or mutually assured destruction!

#6

Maybe, but probably not. Regardless, it is nobody’s business but Iran’s.

#5

I like #4 Chuck’s question better. Who can we trust?

#4

The only ones who can answer this question (Is Iran putting itself on the fast track toward developing nuclear weapons?) are people in the intelligence community. The real question then is whether the intelligence community and their superiors (leaders of countries) are hyping a threat, ala Bush & Iraq, and/or can we trust them to tell the truth?

#3

The folly of IRAN Govt’…their most defiant wants & need that are hell-bent on nuclear dream.
They in their needfulness has out eclipse the will of the Iranian Peoples ,economy who is most stagnat the govt’. has propelled it downward
to gain the nuclear dream ! in other word the IRANIAN GOVT. IS WILLING TO LET THE IRANIAN’S PEOPLE PROSPERITY BE FLASH-DOWN-THE-TOILET…FOR
THEIR.. NUCLEAR Aspiration’s is just a Iranian Hustle …two-step….SANDBAGING IS WHAT THEY DO BEST ?!

#2

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#1

Fast track??? Iran has been working on this for many years.

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