Looks like it is showdown time with Iran!
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared on Tuesday (April 11th) that Iran has joined the nuclear club by claiming a breakthrough in enriching uranium on a small scale for the first time had succeeded on a small scale in enriching uranium, a key step in generating fuel for a reactor or fissile material for a bomb. The U.N. Security Council has demanded that Iran stop all enrichment activity because of suspicions the program's aim is to make weapons. However, Iran has said that it intends to expand its uranium enrichment program and enrich uranium on a scale hundreds of times larger than its current level, signaling its resolve to expand a program that various world leaders across the international community, insist it halt. Ahmadinejad in turn has asked the “corrupt powers” to disarm.
Fuel grade vs. Weapons grade Uranium enrichment - Understanding the differences & the science.
The Iranians claim to have produced enriched uranium "to the 3.5% level". That is pure enough to use as nuclear fuel, though nowhere near what would be needed to make a bomb. Experts say the bank of 164 centrifuges that the Iranians used is not enough to churn out significant amounts.
Seymour Hersh, America's best known investigative journalist, has repeatedly been saying that Iran is in the US cross-hairs. In the latest New Yorker magazine, he concludes once again that the Bush administration is even considering the use of a tactical nuclear weapon against deep Iranian bunkers, but that top generals in the Pentagon are attempting to take that option off the table.
Among the revelations in Hersh's article:
"One of the military's initial option plans ... calls for the use of a bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon, such as the B61-11, against underground nuclear sites." Hersh reported that a lack of "reliable intelligence" on certain underground sites "leaves military planners, given the goal of totally destroying the sites, little choice but to consider the use of tactical nuclear weapons."
According to a "former senior intelligence official," the "attention given to the nuclear option has created serious misgivings inside the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff ... and some officers have talked about resigning." The official also said that the Joint Chiefs "sought to remove the nuclear option from the evolving war plans for Iran," but were unsuccessful.
According to a "senior Pentagon adviser on the war on terror," even though the Joint Chiefs "had agreed to give President Bush a formal recommendation stating that they are strongly opposed to considering the nuclear option for Iran," the "idea of using tactical nuclear weapons ... has gained support from the Defense Science Board, an advisory panel whose members are selected by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld."
Bush has however dismissed this saying that any talk about an inevitable strike on Iran is "wild speculation." However, Mr. Bush has remained steadfast in his statements that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable and "no option is off the table" to prevent it.
So, Is Iran next?, wonders Mark Sappenfield, staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor, as he analyzes the calculus of military strike while Fred Kaplan at Slate tries to decode the options - Are We Really Going To Nuke Iran?
(Earlier last week, he wondered if 'Washington and Tehran are playing a game of global chicken')
The US is planning military action against Iran because George Bush is intent on regime change in Tehran - and not just as a contingency if diplomatic efforts fail to halt its suspected nuclear weapons programme, it was reported yesterday.
Why dropping nukes may not be the best way for President Bush to 'save' Iran or secure his place in history , argues Stuart Jeffries.