Foreign Policy

Iranian Nukewatch

|

On the Iran nuke front, some fear-mongering on CNN from Joint Chiefs of Staff head Adm. Mike Mullen (who said he believes Iran has enough fissile uranium to make a nuclear bomb), some calming from Defense Secretary Robert Gates on NBC ("They are not close to a stockpile; they are not close to a weapon at this point") and from an LA Times account, Iranian

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hasan Qashqavi noted…that Iran still had a long way to go before building a bomb, which requires highly enriched uranium.

"How is it possible that the enrichment level of 3% to 4% suddenly mounts to 90%?" Qashqavi said to reporters in Tehran….. "We have repeatedly said that manufacturing atomic bombs has no place in our defensive doctrine."

Iran insists its nuclear program is meant only to produce low-grade uranium to generate electricity while the U.S., Europe and Israel allege it is trying to create a weapons capability. An IAEA report last month said Iran had accumulated at least 2,227 pounds of reactor-grade enriched uranium, an amount which could theoretically yield enough weapons-grade material for a single bomb.

Even with its 1-ton stockpile of nuclear material, Iran would have to take the dramatic steps of kicking out international inspectors, withdrawing from treaty obligations and begin further refining its enriched uranium, moves that would likely trigger a major global confrontation.

And U.S. envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency meeting going on in Vienna Gregory Schulte

noted the new administration's "readiness for direct engagement with Tehran" to persuade its leadership to not pursue sensitive nuclear technology.

Probably best for U.S. lives and fortunes that that spirit, rather than the spirit of "we must use all elements of our national power" to keep Iran in line, dominates U.S./Iran relations in the future.