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

Obama administration says 2007 estimate that Iran has no weapons program 'remains accurate'

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.

Author: John Glaser

John Glaser writes for Antiwar.com.