IAEA Warns of Increased Iranian Enrichment, But Weapons Program Still Non-Existent

A United Nations nuclear watchdog has issued new warnings that Iran may be preparing for “a possible major expansion of uranium enrichment in a fortified underground facility,” according to Reuters.

The report is being touted in the media as some fast dash by the Iranian government towards a nuclear weapon, but the International Atomic Energy Agency says nothing about any decision by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to develop nuclear weapons.

In fact, “senior Obama administration officials,” reported the Wall Street Journal this week, “say the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate” which found Iran had dismantled its weapons program in 2003 and had not restarted it, “remains accurate.”

Indeed, experts from across the spectrum have agreed with the military and intelligence consensus that Iran has no nuclear weapons program and presents no imminent threat. The White House also reiterated earlier this month that it uses covert means to spy on Iran’s nuclear program and that the US “would know if and when Iran made” the decision to start a weapons program.

Reuters is also reporting that Ayatollah Khamenei has repeated his pledge not to develop nuclear weapons, saying Iran will continue to have an energy program but that nuclear weapons have been ruled out.

While an Iranian bomb is not imminent, Western officials have been concerned about expanded enrichment to 20 percent. The number of enrichment centrifuges at the underground site at Fordow had more than doubled to 2,140 from 1,064 in May, according to the IAEA. However, the additional centrifuges are not yet operating, the new report admits.

An expanded program has helped put Iran within a realm of technical capability to develop a weapon quicker for deterrent purposes if it ever decides to do so – like, in the event of a unilateral US or Israeli attack. Both Washington and Tel Aviv have officially admitted this decision has not yet been made, making an attack completely unjustified.

Israeli leaders continue to push recklessly for war against Iran though, raising questions about an upcoming attack. But the Obama administration, wary about the costs of yet another major war in the Middle East, has not given the green light.

The debate about a nuclear threat from Iran is mostly fabricated. Western leaders don’t much care about weapons proliferation per se: the real concern, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak says, is allowing Iran to enter a “zone of immunity” wherein it can deter attack or invasion. The US and Israel, according to this thinking, must be able to bomb Iran without concern for retaliation.

Obama has refused to launch a military strike on Iran’s non-existent weapons program, but he has given in to Israeli pressure to impose economic warfare on Iran. After extremely severe economic sanctions on Iran’s oil and banking sectors, Iranian civilians are being subjected to high unemployment, rampant inflation and food shortages, and even dramatically less access to vital pharmaceuticals and medical treatment. Some estimate the sanctions could end up killing tens of thousands of Iranians.

Last 5 posts by John Glaser

Author: John Glaser

John Glaser writes for Antiwar.com.

  • peter vojta

    Enter the World of "Double standart"!! Whatever is Iran accused of – fits exatly on Israels regime. Illegal nuclear weapons, state sponsored terrorism, treat to world peace, treat to wipe from the earth certain lands / Palestine nearly done/ etc…Yes,that is Israel since its begining. For what is Iran punished? "Calling for World peace, Nuclear free ME, justice of opressed Palestine people etc"… Real duo "Axis of truth Evil" US and Israels "Knessets" literaly destroing anybody whom they like…..peter czech

  • Johnny_Warbucks

    Yeah, yeah, yeah. We've heard it all before.

  • eileen kuch

    The current sanctions being imposed on Iran today are the same type that had been imposed on Iraq under former President Bill Clinton's regime; and, who are the victims in all of this? Civilians, mostly women, children, and the elderly. The Iraq sanctions killed some 500,000 children UNDER age 5 alone; and, what was Clinton's Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's response to a reporter's question about this death toll being worth it? "Yes, it was worth it." She didn't give a damn.

    We're seeing the same terrible indifference to the sufferings of the most vulnerable of Iran's civilian population as that of Mrs. Albright. These sanctions – just as those on Iraq nearly two decades earlier – are a crime against humanity, according to US and International Law. They're an act of war, to be exact. In addition, they never work. Does any rational person believe that these draconian sanctions will turn Iran's population against their government? Of course not; instead, the opposite will happen.

    Iran is not the threat; Israel is. How many times now has the current Israeli regime threatened Iran with strikes on that country's nuclear power facilities? Is Israel's leadership aware of the presence of Russian engineers at the Bushehr plant? Worse yet, does iut even care? Of course not.

  • eileen kuch

    Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and DM Ehud Barak are hell-bent for war against Iran. For them, it's "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!" It's this type of mentality that places the entire world in grave danger. They know very well that such an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities will provoke fierce retaliation from Iran and spread this conflict across the entire region; but, do they even care? Hell, no.

    Ever heard of the "Samson Option"? Any readers of the Bible's Old Testament surely have; the story of Samson and Delilah is in the Old Testament. Simply look it up, and you'll be able to connect the story to Netanyahu's recent threats.

  • the lion

    Of course IF the US had have let Iran purchase 20 percentile enriched Uranium as they tried to do then they wouldnt have had to enrich it themselves, and if like in the past, France who refused to return Uranium yellowcake that Iran provided and payed for enrichment to 20 percent for its medical isotope reactor, actually honored their contracts Iran wouldnt have had to build their own systems,

    Iran has that right under the NPT, contrary to Americas insistence that they dont, We still hear the bleating of US Politicians as to why Iran wants nuclear power, just remember this DICK CHENEY AND DONALD RUMSFELD went to Iran in the days of the Shah, trying to sell Westinghouse Nuclear Power plants to Iran. Even the US thought there was a need for such plants! Why would there be a need to change that premis?

  • Augustbrhm

    Isnt it war crime to threaten another country with attack/invasion americ/israel must be above the law or two of the most lawless states on earth only third world despots are sent to the Hague.

  • JohnWV

    However did we get it all so backwards? As a signatory to the Non Proliferation Treaty, Iran has an internationally recognized right to develop and implement nuclear technology. Israel rejected the NPT and has no such right. Yet, the Jewish state has ICBM nukes and openly threatens Iran; actually campaigns for war against Iran. Israel, not Iran, should be sanctioned and forced to reveal its nuclear machinations to IAEA inspection. However did we get it all so backwards?

  • jsinton

    Doesn't have a weapons program, but ups enrichment? Contradiction in terms, isn't it? Not so hard to make a bomb once you have the material.

    • No, it is not a contradiction in terms.

      First of all, enriched uranium is required to operate reactors for energy production.

      Secondly, while enriching uranium is one of the most time-consuming and resource-intensive parts of making a bomb, no, it's not "not so hard to make a bomb once you have the [enriched uranium]" any more than it's "not so hard to build a 2010 Ford Focus once you have the gasoline."

      It's not INSANELY hard to make a low-yield fission device, but a genuine nuclear weapon is a complex instrument requiring several difficult components and processes beyond uranium enrichment. And then there's the problem of delivery systems. You can't just strap the thing to an Acme Rocket and hope it goes off.

      • jsinton

        Nobody needs 20% enrichment for nuke plants. All the money is in the enrichment. Delivery systems are not a problem if time is not an issue, put it on a ship. Who's to say they just don't make some "dirty" bombs?

        Why all the games? Why not allow full inspections? There is only one answer.

  • David

    Iran must do everything to protect its territory, and population. If they choose to get a nuke, it will be out of fear of Israeli, and US nukes. My bet is that they already have several hidden away for a rainly day…should Israel get trigger happy..