News Iran's nukes: posturing and playground politics.

Is Iran really that big a threat? Posturing and playground politics.

New Scientist
Iran's nukes - more politics than reality
29 April 2006

RSS Feed IRAN'S President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called it a "historic" breakthrough. His scientists, he claimed on 11 April, had completed the nuclear fuel cycle by enriching uranium for nuclear power plants. Western leaders warned that Iran had taken another dangerous step towards acquiring nuclear weapons and that it must be stopped.

But both sides are guilty of exaggeration and "vacuous political posturing", argues a report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington DC think tank.

In natural uranium, the proportion of the fissile isotope U-235 is about 0.7 per cent. To fuel nuclear power stations, the proportion of U-235 has to be boosted by enrichment. This is done by using cascades of centrifuges to spin hot uranium hexafluoride gas and separate U-235 from its heavier cousin, U-238. Most of the world's 440 reactors use uranium enriched to between 2 and 5 per cent.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has historically supported the right of nations to develop enrichment technology for civilian use. All Iran did, according to Gholamreza Aghazadeh, the head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Agency, was to use 164 centrifuges to enrich uranium to 3.5 per cent. Given Iran's expertise this was not a surprise, and no more than what many nations already do.
I have the link for this but since you need to be a subscriber to NS magazine theres little point in putting up the URL, so heres the article in full.

My question is if the US knows that Iran has very little real ability to enrich Uranium enough to make nukes, what sort of political game is this and should we bo so quick to jump to conclusions based on the Bush propaganda machine?

Is Iran any sort of real threat, and more importantly will Iran ever be a serious threat, it claims it's enriching Uranium for peaceful use, and it seems currently that's all it can do? Are we talking about what ifs and maybes? Is this poker politics? Or more aptly perhaps playground politics?

Oh yeah!?! Well my dads bigger'n your dad. :smile:
 
Last edited by a moderator:

J77

1,070
1
The title's not a good start - to me it implies that Iran has nuclear weapons which, afaik, is wrong.

****, they're probably less well armed than Iraq was.
 
I agree so I changed it just for you or at least the title anyway. Somewhat misleading.
 
Last edited:

J77

1,070
1
Schrodinger's Dog said:
I agree so I changed it just for you. Somewhat misleading.
I didn't necessarily mean your title - I see you just took it from the NS article :smile:
 
Is that a credible web site or a conspiracy web site? If it is then your saying the US are willing to send it's population to death not for democracy but for a buck. Capatalism gone evil. If that is indeed true which I'm not sure then the US leadership must easily be the most ruthlessly evil leadership since Hitler. Mind you Germany had the decency to tell it's soldiers what they were dying for. I'm not convinced that is anything more than a conspiracy theory though.

Wow I should really have put Bush claims Iran will nuke west in two years. Get more interest in that than you would a claim that the US has again been pretty much lying it's ass off again in a sort of lie off with Iran. I guess that's not news any more though is it :wink:

What we are basically asking at the moment is that Iran stop enrichment to levels for peaceful use, in the fear that it might be able one day in a galaxy far far away be able to build enough functioning enrichment facilities to build one nuke. I'm beginning to wonder if the question is not is Iran looking to build nukes, but how long is the US going to maintain this charade and how gulible do they think people are?

I was skeptical about this whole deal in the first place, primarily because I'm now pretty sure both Bush and Blair openly lied about the situation in Iraq,at first Iran was suspicion based on past history but now I'm a bit more sure in my skepticism, I've seen nothing yet that would confirm the US's suggestions.

Why don't the US just sell the nukes to Iran, instead of just giving them the facilities to enrich uranium if they want a war so bad?:wink: :smile:

I'm getting the feeling that that is the only way Iran will ever obtain nukes. That and Israel donating them with extreme prejudice :smile:
 
Last edited:

russ_watters

Mentor
18,643
4,877
Schrodinger's Dog said:
Is that a credible web site or a conspiracy web site?
After only a brief look, I don't think I'd go so far to say it is a conspiracy theory website, but it is a highly biased and very speculative site. "Peak Oil" does have a fair number of crackpot followers, but the concept itself is relatively sound (it is mostly basic economics).
 

Ivan Seeking

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
7,093
173
The problem is that this is a copyright violation. Sorry, but must edit the original post.

If you wish to post key statements or re-edit that's fine, but it is illegal to post half or more of any copyright protected material.
 
Last edited:
Oh no problem I'll fish another bit of information out at some point, I don't think there's much interest in this subject any more any way. I've seen plenty of reports in the media claiming Iran may develope nukes, but precous little evidence that it in fact can. To me this is beginning to look politically motivated, and nothing to do with the declared intentions, whilst I don't want to create conspiracy I demand stronger Coffee with my breakfast I suggest people either dont sleep or wake up and smell some.

The only problem with that web site is the sort of machinations they are talking about seem not to be working, thus I'd give it little credence, war as England showed is seldom cheap. We lost a colossal amount of money fighting two of them.
 

russ_watters

Mentor
18,643
4,877
Schrodinger's Dog said:
I've seen plenty of reports in the media claiming Iran may develope nukes, but precous little evidence that it in fact can.
What evidence do you need? This isn't 1945 - the technology required is not all that advanced anymore. The most important requirements are a supply of uranium (which they have) and the desire to spend a lot of money on it. They most certainly can build a nuclear weapon if they want to.
 

Astronuc

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
18,546
1,669
Supposedly Iran has enriched uranium to 3.6% U-235. This is a concentration sufficient for an LWR (VVER, a Russian equivalent). A CANDU reactor could use natural U, so no enrichment would be necessary.

The question is whether or not the enrichment stops at 5%, the current international limit for commercial fuel, or does Iran plan to continue enriching to 80% or greater. They certainly have the means, motivation and opportunity.
 

russ_watters

Mentor
18,643
4,877
Astronuc said:
The question is whether or not the enrichment stops at 5%, the current international limit for commercial fuel, or does Iran plan to continue enriching to 80% or greater. They certainly have the means, motivation and opportunity.
To clarify that a little, there isn't a technological barrier between 5% and 80% enrichment. It is primarily a matter of effort.
 

Astronuc

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
18,546
1,669
russ_watters said:
To clarify that a little, there isn't a technological barrier between 5% and 80% enrichment. It is primarily a matter of effort.
Exactly. They got to 3.6% using centrifuges, and they can go beyond - it's must a matter of time and will.

The political side of the story is that they do not wish to be monitored by the IAEA, or anyone else. If they are just doing commercial enrichment, what's the big deal.

In the US, the DOE monitors the commercial enrichment program and fuel cycles, and accounts for every gram of U. The weapons program is completely separate.
 
Last edited:
A

Art

Astronuc said:
Exactly. They got to 3.6% using centrifuges, and they can go beyond - it's must a matter of time and will.

The political side of the story is that they do not wish to be monitored by the IAEA, or anyone else. If they are just doing commercial enrichment, what's the big deal.
My understanding is they were allowing the IAEA full access including surprise spot checks but the US and others said this wasn't good enough as they just don't want Iran to gain the know-how of the uranium enrichment cycle and were prepared to use force to forestall them. This is why the Iranians made such a show of their recent success in this area.

So now the cat is out of the bag what is the point of UN security council action now? The Iranians cannot be forced to unlearn what they have learned and so the original reason for bringing the matter to the security council is now obsolete.

The Iranians curtailed IAEA inspections after their referral to the UN security council but have offered to reinstate full access if the issue is contained within the IAEA. This route seems the best way of making sure Iran stays within the enrichment limits laid down by the IAEA to achieve the stated aim of ensuring Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon..

IMO it is likely that although initially it was true they were only interested in making nuclear grade fuel I would be very surprised given the threats against them if they are not now working feverishly to develop a bomb as a deterrent.

What puzzles me is why, given their history, are both Japan and Germany being allowed to enrich uranium without a murmer from the international community?? Whilst Iran with no history of aggression is being threatened with all kinds of dire consequences if they continue to exercise their rights under the NPT.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

selfAdjoint

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Dearly Missed
6,764
5
What gets me in all the enrichment talk is that it is always assumed that the problem is the Iranians might highly enriched uranium for weapons. But reactor grade uranium would permit them to make weapons grade plutonium in Hanford style reactors, no? That would require more sophisticated bomb technology, but I don't think it's necessarily beyond them.
 

Astronuc

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
18,546
1,669
selfAdjoint said:
What gets me in all the enrichment talk is that it is always assumed that the problem is the Iranians might highly enriched uranium for weapons. But reactor grade uranium would permit them to make weapons grade plutonium in Hanford style reactors, no? That would require more sophisticated bomb technology, but I don't think it's necessarily beyond them.
They could use CANDU technology, or enriched U in LWRs or Graphite moderated reactors, any of which could be used to make Pu-239, which is the preferred fissile material for nuclear weapons. Making the Pu-239 then requires reprocessing technology to separate it from the U-238. Not terribly difficult.

The argument about enrichment is a bit spurious.

As for the technology - it appears that the Iranians already have it.

I don't know why they just don't buy nuclear warheads from Pakistan or North Korea and save themselves the trouble.
 
A

Art

Astronuc said:
They could use CANDU technology, or enriched U in LWRs or Graphite moderated reactors, any of which could be used to make Pu-239, which is the preferred fissile material for nuclear weapons. Making the Pu-239 then requires reprocessing technology to separate it from the U-238. Not terribly difficult.

The argument about enrichment is a bit spurious.

As for the technology - it appears that the Iranians already have it.

I don't know why they just don't buy nuclear warheads from Pakistan or North Korea and save themselves the trouble.
The way they have been behaving lately one wonders if they haven't already. :eek:
 
More information as promised.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,1766110,00.html

There is no evidence that Iran is much closer to nuclear weapons now than was Iraq in September 2002, when Blair and Cheney assured the world that Baghdad represented a "genuine nuclear threat". Reports in 2003 by a somewhat demented sect, the Mojahedin e-Khalq, of preliminary nuclear research at the Natanz installation were no such proof. But in the competitive scramble by European powers to enhance their standing with Washington after the invasion of Iraq, France, Germany and Britain were keen to prove their mettle by forcing extra agreements on Tehran. The Khatami regime immediately capitulated. In December 2003, they signed the "Additional Protocol" demanded by the EU3, agreeing to a "voluntary suspension" of the right to enrichment guaranteed under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Within three months, the IAEA was condemning them for having failed to ratify it; in June 2004, its inspectors produced examples of Iranian enrichment work, perfectly legal under the NPT, but ruled out by the Additional Protocol. Israel has boasted of its intention to "destroy Natanz" - the contrast to its stealth bombing of Iraq's Osirak reactor in 1981 a measure of the new balance of forces. In the summer of 2004, a large bi-partisan majority in the US Congress passed a resolution for "all appropriate measures" to prevent an Iranian weapons programme and there was speculation about an "October surprise" before the 2004 presidential poll. Plans were thus well advanced before Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's victory in the June 2005 Iranian presidential election.
With only 800 or so working centrifuges, at the moment it would take 3 years to make enough enriched uranium for a single nuke. What Iran would need effort wise is a serious commitment to building nukes and a huge infusion of funds, something it's shown historically it lacks. If UN inspectors were let back in we could see for ourselves the poor state of affairs at the moment. I think this is propaganda again, and Iran and the US are playing poker with each other. Personally I don't see where the threat is ATM, there simply is nothing but a level to use peacefully and I'm honestly of the opinion unless I see counter evidence, that any other speculation is merely that. The burden of proof is most assuredly on the US and hopefully the IAEA's shoulders.

It's a shame I can't print the original article and I'm not sure what would constitute allowable editing, so I'll leave it, it is much more damning than the above report.
 
Last edited:

russ_watters

Mentor
18,643
4,877
Schrodinger's Dog said:
Personally I don't see where the threat is ATM, there simply is nothing but a level to use peacefully and I'm honestly of the opinion unless I see counter evidence, that any other speculation is merely that. The burden of proof is most assuredly on the US and hopefully the IAEA's shoulders.
On this issue, there is no such thing as burden of proof. The title of the thread is apt: posturing and playground politics.

But please bear in mind: it isn't just the US that is posturing. The entire reason we are worried is because Iran is posturing and making threats while simultaneously saying they only want nukes for peace. If you only want nukes for peace, why launch a test missile over Israel when making the announcement? The message that sends is 'we can build weapons if we want to'.
 
Last edited:
Agreed I'll conceed I'm not being clear and it could be misinterpreted as saying before we make speculation we should see proof, but I'm thinking more about a burden of proof to impose sanctions or in the worst case scenario, for military action whatever that may be. And the fact that both are posturing was in the article and inherent in my original post, unfortunately it got deleted and so the message about playground politics and poker politics was a bit unclear. Take the title of the thread as being indicative of both sides, that is how I meant to convey myself in the OP.

Iran, it seems, is hyping its progress and western leaders and media are happy to play along.
Everything I say should be taken in context of the end of the article, that is the way it was meant the counter argument to the US is simply trying to pry some real evidence from their stance, as we're already palpably aware of what the Iranians are saying, but not aware perhaps of where they actually are doing.

Also of course the Iranians are denying that they either need or want nukes, and that the assertions of the US are nonsense, I think their current leadership is playing dangerous games, they have been called to prove their bluff, but the UN has removed weapons inspectors who could decide the issue? This seems to be a strange sort of game to me where they and the US are bluffing, but they are not prepared to show the cards or even required to to win or lose.

Oh yeah, well I can do Kung FU!

Oh yeah! Well my Kung Fu is better than yours and I'm a ninja too!! :smile:
 
Last edited:
S

Skyhunter

It appears that CNN is ready to support the war against Iran.

http://mediamatters.org/items/200606020008

After 11 years of sanctions against Iraq and we still had to go to war to get all those weapons Saddam possessed? Talk about political playgrounds. :rolleyes:
 

russ_watters

Mentor
18,643
4,877
I would say that they were probably referring to the fact the world community generally believed at the time that Iraq did have/desire to have wmd (as per UN 1441). Saddam did a good job of convincing the world that he was a threat that needed to be dealt with (whether they agreed with how to deal with the threat or not).

It is an irony and a hard lesson of playing this game: sometimes your posturing will get you invaded even if you haven't done anything wrong, but only act like you've done something wrong.
 
Last edited:

Gokul43201

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
6,987
14
russ_watters said:
It is an irony and a hard lesson of playing this game: sometimes your posturing will get you invaded even if you haven't done anything wrong, but only act like you've done something wrong.
Russ, that sounds like it takes all the responsibility for the invasion away from the invaders and places it squarely upon the invadees.

Moreover, it's not like Saddam was going out of his way to proclaim to the world that he had WMDs. At every speech he made, he insisted that he had none.
 

pervect

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Insights Author
9,488
795
My $.02. Think about the history for a bit:

Iran: "We don't have nuclear weapons".

Result: the US invaded Iran.

North Korea: "Yeah, we've got nuclear weapons. Do you want to make something of it?"

Result: the US announced "It would not be provoked"
 

rcgldr

Homework Helper
8,589
482
Can Uranium really be enriched to weapons quality with centrifuges these days? This is not how it was done in the past (a different method was used).
 

Related Threads for: Iran's nukes: posturing and playground politics.

Replies
48
Views
6K
A
Replies
177
Views
16K
  • Posted
Replies
4
Views
452
  • Posted
2 3
Replies
52
Views
6K
Replies
7
Views
3K

Physics Forums Values

We Value Quality
• Topics based on mainstream science
• Proper English grammar and spelling
We Value Civility
• Positive and compassionate attitudes
• Patience while debating
We Value Productivity
• Disciplined to remain on-topic
• Recognition of own weaknesses
• Solo and co-op problem solving

Hot Threads

Top