Middle East

It's the Bomb That Will Bring Us Together

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During his confirmation hearing, CIA director Leon Panetta told his inquisitors that "From all the information I've seen, I think there is no question that [Iranian leaders] are seeking [nuclear] capability." In a recent press conference, as the Los Angeles Times noted, President Obama referred to Iran's "development of a nuclear weapon," though he quickly backtracked, referring to the country's "pursuit" of a weapons program. In other words, as the Times points out, "senior U.S. officials now discount a National Intelligence Estimate issued in November 2007 that was instrumental in derailing U.S. and European efforts to pressure Iran to shut down its nuclear program." Now comes word, via the always excitable Matt Drudge and the FT, that Tehran, according to the United Nations, possesses enough enriched uranium for a single nuclear bomb.

Iran has now built up a stockpile of enough enriched uranium for one nuclear bomb, United Nations officials acknowledged on Thursday.

In a development that comes as the Obama administration is drawing up its policy on negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear programme, UN officials said Iran had produced more nuclear material than previously thought.

They said Iran had now accumulated more than one tonne of low enriched uranium hexafluoride at a facility in Natanz. If such a quantity were further enriched it could produce more than 20kg of fissile material—enough for a bomb.

Nice job of containing Ahmadinejad, President Bush!

Headline reference, for those non-Moz fans.

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  1. Wasn’t the Dem party line during the campaign that there was no evidence of Iranian intent to build that bomb and that the only people who believed otherwise were derranged neocons looking to start a war? Wasn’t the National Intelligence Summary that said Iran stopped developing nukes in 2003 treated as the gospel truth? Now everyone acts like “well of course Iran is developing nukes”. Really? Is there anything BO didn’t lie about in the campaign?

  2. I’m not in favor of gun control, so they can have as many nukes as they can afford.

  3. Nice job of containing Ahmadinejad, President Bush!

    Well, that’s not really fair coming from the non-interventionists at Reason, is it? What Reason-approved “containing” steps could Bush have taken that would have succeeded? Saddam is now thoroughly contained six feet under, and I don’t recall a lot of support around here for the policies that lead to that result. I don’t see any options in between the current sanctions and outright acts of war, but please enlighten me if I’m missing some.

  4. No kidding Paypaya. If Bush had bombed Iran’s nukes sites, I am sure Reason would have been right there with him. Also, REason was one of the ones toating the National Intellegence Estimate or whatever it was as proof that Bush was a derranged lunatic intent on going to war with an otherwise peaceful Iran.

  5. Guys, the horse was out of the barn well before Bush. They already hated us by then. I’m not saying Dubya did anything worthwhile to try to fix the problem, but history is longer than 8 years. Which a lot of Dems seem to forget from time to time…when it suits their ideology.

  6. In before:

    – MNG goes apeshit

    – Someone posts a ranty, non sequitur concerning Israel

    – Underzog

  7. I don’t think this should really come as a surprise. The best way to bring your thugocracy to the forefront is through the procurement of nukes. It’s really more of a question of what does Israel do about this, and what is the worldwide reaction to their action? Sure seems like a great way to fuck up America’s exit from Iraq.

  8. I know this will sound college freshman-ish, but…

    OOH! One bomb!!! SO SCARY LET’S PEE OUR PANTS!

    We have thousands and thousands of nuclear bombs, correct? How is Iran having 1 scary at all to anyone?

  9. At least they didn’t get to test it yet, the way the North Koreans did.

    I think Obama should ask John Bolton for advice, then do the opposite of whatever he says.

  10. Um, read the actual claim.

    It says that if Iran further enriched the uranium they have, it could be turned into weapons grade material.

    Moynihan won’t tell you that by the terms of the Non Proliferation Treaty to which the US is a signatory, Iran is absolutely and without limitation entitled to a civilian nuclear power program.

    Any nation with a civilian nuclear power program will possess material that could be “turned into” weapons-grade material.

  11. Fluffy: Do you really believe Iran isn’t planning on building nuclear weapons? If so, I have some mortgage-backed securities I want to sell you.

  12. You guys getting that bikini ad on the right? It’s affecting my concentration.

  13. One nuke which they might be able to loft to Yerevan. Whoopteewhoo.

  14. Owe Knowes! Theys haz da knuxe!

    So I’m sure what will happen when they build one, which they haven’t yet, will be to… um… send it on a truck to Tel Aviv?

    Last time I checked, nukes take more than uranium, and you sure as hell would want to test it out before you tried you use the design in practice.

    Yeah, that would go over real well if they launched a dud. Not only would it not do much damage, beyond a bit of radiation, but they’d risk a response that would turn their capital into glass.

    Jefferson:
    AdBlock Plus my friend. Sorry Reason.

  15. You guys getting that bikini ad on the right? It’s affecting my concentration.

    I’m actually getting offers for an online degree in International Terrorism. I thought that would be more like an apprenticeship, but I could see the political and religious components that are essential to maximizing your terror strikes could warrant a 4 year degree.

  16. Spoonman, it only takes one nuke to destroy electronics for thousands of miles.

    All nuclear explosives are not created equal. For long range effect you need both high altitude and a big bomb. Moreover, enhanced EMP devices are non-trivial.

    And they will want to test anthing they build for themselves…

  17. Fluffy: Do you really believe Iran isn’t planning on building nuclear weapons?

    If we didn’t want other nations to have civilian nuclear programs, we shouldn’t have signed a treaty saying they can. We can always withdraw from the treaty if we want – and we haven’t.

    But this nonsense where we sign the treaty, continue to participate in the treaty, demand that other nations live up to their obligations under the treaty – but then when a country we don’t like wants to enjoy their treaty rights, we sputter about like old maids about “possible dual use” and “Iran’s real intentions” – is just crap.

    Talk to me when you have something more than intentions to bitch about.

  18. Is there some way we can twist this to force ABC to un-cancel Jericho?

  19. Fun facts:

    Natural uranium is 99+% U-238, less than 1% U-235(‘the good stuff’)

    Commercial reactor Uranium is around 3-4% U-235.

    so 1 tonne of reactor uranium has around 30-40 kg of ‘the good stuff’. By definition.

    The bomb used in Hiroshima was a U-235 bomb of a design that was never tested; Trinity was a different design using plutonium – and was similar to the bomb used in Nagasaki.

    The Hiroshima design is unsafe by modern standards, because it would be relatively easy to have an accidental detonation.

    All the cool kids have tritium in their bombs.

  20. Nice job of containing Ahmadinejad, President Bush!

    That really wasn’t fair, objective, or anything else admirable. Especially from Reason.

    Or is Reason now also drunk off the ether of Obama’s angelic nature? In which case I have absolutely nowhere left to hope for finding anything even semi-rational to read.

    Remember that we were all supposed to vote against the Republicans because they deserved it, b’god. What are y’all gonna do now?

    I have said since long before the election: in the long run paying off the bill for Iraq is going to be way cheaper than the permanent damage that the Dems are going to do with their Environmental Faith and their socialist medicine. And now, their hammering of the entire damned mortgage industry, which happens to be the biggest chunk of the whole US economy.

    Bad as Bush was, the Dems have so far proven worse on financial matters. And if you think they’re going to do anything better when it comes to foreign policy you’re in for a really rude awakening.

    Unless you’re drunk on the ether that oozes from Obama’s angelic nature (read all about it in any MSM outlet today).

  21. Kolohe,

    Good point. You don’t need to test the assembled nuclear bomb, just the parts. Enriching the uranium and building a neutrino source are the difficult parts. You can verify the isotope ratios in the enriched uranium by taking a small sample, and you can test a neutrino source in a small lab undetected. If those two parts work, you can be sure the nuclear bomb works.

  22. neutrino source

    You mean ‘neutron source’ right?

    Detecting neutrinos requires those massive salt caves I think.

  23. A critical mass assembly device is simple by comparison to an implosion device, but it is still not simple. It is easy to generate a fizzle which would be bad for the target, but would badly underutilaze your expensive fissile material.

    The Manhattan project folks knew their math was right because the trinity device worked. This gave them added confidence in the Hiroshima bomb.

    I figure that Iranians see themselves as in charge of a first tier country. They won’t risk embarrassment.

    Besides, much of the value of the bomb is in the threat of the bomb.

    Detecting neutrinos requires those massive salt caves I think.

    Ah. Now this is my bag. Depends on the strength of the source, the energy spectra of the neutrinos, and how much precision you want.

    The smallest detector in use right now fits on the back a a big pickup truck (test bed detector for nuclear non-proliferation). The largest is nearly a cubic mile of instrumented antarctic ice (very ambitious and well funded neutrino cosmology experiment). The generation of reactor neutrino experiments currently building use a few tens of tons of liquid scintillator each.

  24. To actually build a bomb, with a missle and a guidance system capable of hitting Israel is not so easy, and most experts think they are years away from that. Israel has probably penetrated their entire program anyway, and there is some evidence that they are assasinating Iranian Nuke scientists. It’s not high on my list of worries.

  25. Glad to see some honest criticism of the Bush administration – I guess that Iraq War “distraction from real threats” tree is starting to bear fruit…

  26. EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy: According to the Wikipedia reference and its references, you don’t need that big a bomb. And while an enhanced EMP bomb may be difficult, any old nuke will do a great deal of EMP damage.

    Kohole, here’s a favorite story from that time. The Manhattan project needed lots of uranium, but the major source was the Belgian Congo, under German occupation. But someone saw that a Belgian mineral dealer was living in exile in New York, so they sent a couple of Army lieutenants to talk to him. He demanded to see their IDs, to make sure they were who they said they were. When they asked about sources of uranium ore, he said “I’ve got tons stored on Long Island.”

    It turned out that before the war, someone told him that scientists might be able to make a superbomb out of uranium. So, fearing Hitler, he had tons of it shipped to the US and waited for the authorities to ask for it. And that’s what we made the first bombs from.

  27. EWOTBM-

    Thanks for that, but what I don’t understand is why neutrinos? The detectors for the big 4 can all be made hand portable. And I thought gamma counting can detect everything we need to be worried about. (more precisely, picks up the decay of the daughters).

  28. I dare you to drop your one fucking bomb.

    You’re right Mr. Carter. The Iran nuclear bullshit is bullshit. Bring It On! And this is silly rhetoric because even Abidinamajenibinedavinobad knows he’d be screwed in any exchange. Hello?

    Why is the American public so ignorant on this. Math scores?

  29. From all the information I’ve seen, I think there is no question that [Iranian leaders] are seeking [nuclear] capability.” I

    That’s sort of what Madeleine Half Bright said about Iraq and WMD’s. When GWB took her seriously he became the court jester.

  30. Coyness is nice, but coyness can stop you from nuclear apocalypse.

  31. To the occasional visitors here who are lamenting this entry as yet more Reason hostility to Bush, or part of Reason’s love of Obama, look at the byline.

    Moynihan is an unrepentant Bush lover and this “criticism” is half tongue in cheek, or half a complaint that Bush didn’t wage more wars in the Middle East than he actually did. If it was up to Moynihan, we’d militarily occupy most of the region, and probably a few other regions too.

  32. Naga,

    The second season of Jericho really started to suck. I’m not sure if this is Iran’s fault, but I wouldn’t doubt that those wily Persian bastards have something to do with it.

  33. “Bad as Bush was, the Dems have so far proven worse on financial matters”

    um….

    while the stimulus is clearly the Dems’ baby, there was a lot of economic bullshit under bush, so i don’t think there’s enough differentiation.

    However, certainly people have given Bush another “Ruby Ridge” free pass. Unfortunately.

    where we have fallen over the past eight years should clue you in to that…

  34. Citi-bank slated for failure this weekend and Bank of America soon to follow.Alittle known bank in trouble also is Compass Bank holdings.

  35. Thanks for that, but what I don’t understand is why neutrinos?

    Us evil fiziks types like neutrinos because they a very pure window on the workings of the weak nuclear force. That is, chasing them is pure science.

    Well almost, like I said they are being looked at for nuclear-non-proliferation uses.

    And I thought gamma counting can detect everything we need to be worried about. (more precisely, picks up the decay of the daughters).

    If you’re worried about detecting contamination for self preservation this is the case.

    The only place you’d need to worry about the health implication of being hit by neutrinos would be in the close neighborhood of a supernova. And you wouldn’t have long to worry about it.

  36. Realistically, I don’t think we can stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons.

    I would be satisfied if Obama were to make a clear, unambiguous promise that any use of nuclear weapons by Iran, on anyone at anytime, would trigger a massive nuclear response from the US. It would be extra satisfactory if he would detail the targets and the megatonnage to be used on each.

  37. PapayaSF:

    It appears that I type corrected. On a “do the most damage” approach that might even be the best strategy for a small rogue nuclear power to take, but it trades infrastructure damage for deaths.

    So, which bambpot decision makers are silly enough to lob a nuke at a major power, and clear headed enough to choose to use it for EMP?

    Your guess is as good as mine.

  38. You’re blaming Bush for this too??? After 5 years of leftie hatred directed at him for a perfectly legal and justifiable war in Iraq, imagine the pilloring he’d have gotten if he’d have used force in Iran.

  39. Jericho was on CBS, but since ABC saved Scrubs, I guess it wouldn’t be totally out of the question, except that most of the actors have probably signed up to do some stupid off-Broadway plays for peanuts and are thus unavailable to continue the series now.

  40. EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy, violent dictatorial regimes often do things that don’t make sense in the long run, even for themselves.

  41. “We have thousands and thousands of nuclear bombs, correct? How is Iran having 1 scary at all to anyone?”

    Because they are much more likely than most countries to explode it (or sell it to someone who will) in the middle of New York. Or do you not find that scary?

  42. Get with the program folks.

    Iran has LOW ENRICHED uranium that couldn’t be used for a bomb in a million years.

    For it to be useful in a bomb it would have to be enriched 20 times more than it is now.

    They would not be able to do this without practically announcing to the IAEA inspectors that oversee all Iranian nuclear activities that they are trying to enrich uranium to weapons grade.

    Smarten up, people. You’re being conned.

  43. Because they are much more likely than most countries to explode it (or sell it to someone who will) in the middle of New York.

    And the delivery system will be —–?

  44. Keeping in mind, that the only country that has ever successfuly delivered a nuclear weapon to any target other than a test site was ——?

  45. For it to be useful in a bomb it would have to be enriched 20 times more than it is now.

    They have hundreds of centrifuges running.

    Shrug. When they nuke Tel Aviv via Hizbollah, Obama will blame Bush (“we inherited this situation”), urge Israel to talk instead of retaliating, and the media will support him 100% on both counts.

  46. And the delivery system will be —–?

    Seriously, do people really not understand there are suicide bombers who will gladly load the damned thing into a truck or ship or minisub or a freaking go-cart if they think it’s Allah’s will?

  47. I fear the people that fear me having a gun.

    Iran is in the same boat.

  48. “I fear the people that fear me having a gun.

    Iran is in the same boat.”

    You don’t go around making bombastic death threats against those people daily, do you? Because if you do, you know, like Iran does, then I think the people fearing you having a gun would be pretty justified in that fear. And that you and Iran deserve the boat you’re in.

    Of course like I said that’s only if you’re running around screaming death threats all day. Like Iran does.

    Bush essentially gave up any American role in negotiations with Iran and the Europeans were in charge. Bush supported whatever the Europeans were doing and didn’t offer any opinion of his own. They failed miserably. This is non-interventionism of the kind favored by most of the people here. Bush didn’t do anything; Europe talked; Iran ignored.

    So when Iran gets a few bombs and starts demanding the West enact economic and diplomatic policies that no sane person would ever enact, we can hear from the people here at Reason how it’s not so much of a much and how Ayatollah Khameini isn’t an enemy of the markets and it’s none of our business anyway while Iran enriches itself at the expense of the world and millions of people five thousand miles away get to live their lives in misery and insane religious weirdos get to keep on playing global chicken with the power of 70 million people behind them.

    And remember, it will somehow all be Bush’s and “interventionists'” fault.

  49. “After 5 years of leftie hatred directed at him for a perfectly legal and justifiable war in Iraq”

    You just lost your credibility.

  50. “I would be satisfied if Obama were to make a clear, unambiguous promise that any use of nuclear weapons by Iran, on anyone at anytime, would trigger a massive nuclear response from the US.”

    Except for the fact that Ahmadinejad wants a nuclear apocalypse to bring about the coming of the Twelfth Imam so sayeth the Prophet (as well as the ruler of Be’ethos).

  51. “- Underzog”

    Sometimes I think we should require posters to register, so that the Underzog could be banned.

    Then again, my own occasional antics might get me banned too. And wouldn’t that be ironic?

  52. Economist:

    Sometimes I think we should require posters to register, so that the Underzog could be banned.

    What does one expect from disciples of Ernst Rh?m? Of course, these Nazis will want me to shut up about the strong strain of anti-Semitism that runs through the Libertarian party? It is absolute evil afterall.

    Lastly, I think I should commend “Hit and Run” for not banning me as Economist suggests. I am afterall one of “Reason” Magazine’s first subscribers. “Reason’s” creator, Lanny Friedlander, used to come over my mother’s house when I was a kid.

  53. Underzog,
    Up the quality of your spoof-trolling. Otherwise, do something else. If your posts are serious, I deeply pity you. Living with mental retardation seems like it would be difficult.

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