Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Iran Has Nuclear Weapons

For the past seven years, President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and other officers of our federal government have been saying that we must prevent Iran from obtaining or creating nuclear weapons. This rhetoric is now pointless: Iran has the bomb. The circumstantial evidence is overwhelming. It is so specific that we can even estimate the number of warheads that Iran has produced to date. That number is at least 75.

The evidence is both plentiful in quantity and various in nature:

1. It makes no sense for an oil-rich country to have nuclear reactors. Yet Iran has at least six. Due to construction problems, the big twin reactors at Busheir have never produced any electrical power, nor are they likely to for several years. However, the construction difficulties are in the part of the facility that generates electricity, not in the reactors. Almost certainly, one of the reactors has been operating since 2004: It takes a powerful reactor to produce polonium-210, and we now know that Iran has been making this substance since 2004.

2. The type of nuclear fuel that Iran is producing at other sites cannot be used by the reactors at Busheir. Yet the Busheir reactors are the biggest in Iran. It makes no sense to produce nuclear fuel that cannot be used at Busheir: this Iranian-produced fuel is either for small reactors or for nuclear weapons.

3. Iran has been caught lying to the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) repeatedly. If Iran's nuclear program were for the production of electrical power alone, no lying would have been needed.

4. Iran has rejected an offer by the Russian Federation to supply Iran with nuclear fuel and to cart away its nuclear waste. This program would have supplied Iran with uranium that is not pure enough to make a bomb. It also would have removed any plutonium or polonium-210 produced by the reactors; both are used to make nuclear bombs.

5. Iran has more than 50 nuclear-related facilities. They are too plentiful for a domestic electrical power production program. On the other hand, nuclear weapons require a large number of finely-machined parts, extremely pure metals, and extremely pure explosives. If Iran is mass-producing nuclear weapons, then 50 sites might well be necessary.

6. These nuclear-related facilities are needlessly dispersed instead of conveniently centralized. By dispersing them, Iran has made it difficult for an attacker to disable them all simultaneously.

7. They are owned and managed by officers of the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps,) a uniformed branch of the Iranian military. If these facilities were related only to the production of domestic electrical power, the military would not be interested in them.

8. Increasingly, these nuclear-related facilities are being moved underground. Typically, a nation buries only its most vital weapons and weapons production facilities, because they must be protected at all costs.

9. Iranian officials have openly threatened Israel by calling it "a one-bomb country." Only a nuclear bomb has the capacity to destroy all of Israel.

10. Many of Iran's ballistic missiles are over 50 feet in length. It makes no sense to fly a multi-million-dollar rocket thousands of miles only to knock down a few buildings with conventional explosives. These are nuclear missiles.

11. From 1986 through 2003, Iran was repeatedly visited by agents of Abdul Qadeer Khan's clandestine nuclear sales network. Dr. Khan, Pakistan's top nuclear expert signed a consulting agreement with Iran in 1987. He sold to the Iranians as much as 18 tons of materials, including drawings, components, and P-1 centrifuges for enriching uranium to weapons grade. In 2005, IAEA inspectors in Iran found documents from A.Q. Khan that show how to cast uranium metal into hemispheres. The only known use for a uranium hemisphere is to trigger a nuclear explosion.

12. The Mobarakeh steel factory in Isfahan is producing maraging steel, which can be used to build centrifuges, missile components, and casings for nuclear weapons.

13. In March 2004, American IAEA officials discovered that Iran has been producing polonium-210. Polonium-210 is the most toxic and dangerous substance known to mankind. Trace amounts exist in nature, but substantial quantities can only be produced in a nuclear reactor, like the ones at Busheir. Polonium-210 has only one use: to act as a neutron source in order to trigger a nuclear explosion. (Polonium-210 gives off so much heat that it was once used as a heat source in unmanned space probes. It was also used recently to poison a former Russian KGB agent in London.) It makes no sense to produce polonium-210 without putting it into a nuclear warhead; that would be like a gunsmith constructing a trigger without also constructing a pistol.

14. In November 2004, Secretary of State Colin Powell revealed that Iran was working on an interface designed to couple a nuclear warhead to a missile. There is no such thing as a "one size fits all" nuclear warhead: warheads have particular shapes. They can't simply be placed inside a rocket: they have to be bolted in place. The bolts on the warhead have to match the holes in the missile, or vice-versa. The missile and warhead must also be wired together with sensors, controls, and fail-safe devices. An interface is an intermediate structure that binds to the missile on one side and to the warhead on the other. It is not possible to construct an interface without first constructing both the missile and the warhead.

15. In January 2005, Ukraine announced that an earlier Administration had illegally sold 6 or 12 Soviet KH-55 “Granat” nuclear-capable cruise missiles to Iran. The KH-55 can carry a 200-kiloton warhead; equivalent to 12 Hiroshima bombs. The Iranians have reverse-engineered the missile and are now mass-producing copies of it at the Khaibar missile base in Karaj.

16. In April 2006, Iran announced that it has been conducting research into nuclear fusion for at least five years. Nuclear fusion can only be used for two things: producing electrical power and making a thermonuclear warhead. But no one has yet succeeded in making cost-effective electrical power via nuclear fusion. This means that Iran is building a hydrogen bomb.

17. According to an Iranian dissident, 31 miles southwest of Natanz, the IRGC has built an underground complex, which is protected by a blast door 20 feet tall and 60 feet wide. The complex divides into six blast-hardened bunkers that contain two Shahab-3 ballistic missiles on mobile launchers, a centrifuge cascade capable of refining uranium to weapons grade, and 15 nuclear warheads.

Given all of this data, it is impossible to believe that Iran's 27-year drive to produce nuclear weapons has not yet succeeded.

Either the reactors at Busheir alone, or Arak alone, or Natanz alone can produce 25 nuclear warheads per year. If only one of these facilities has been operating continuously since 2004, then Iran presently has at least 75 warheads.

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