Nuclear Weapons

Iran: Still Not Making Nuclear Weapons

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On Saturday, where all the really vitally important news gets buried, the New York Times reminds us:

Even as the United Nations' nuclear watchdog said in a new report Friday that Iran had accelerated its uranium enrichment program, American intelligence analysts continue to believe that there is no hard evidence that Iran has decided to build a nuclear bomb.

Recent assessments by American spy agencies are broadly consistent with a2007 intelligence finding that concluded that Iran had abandoned itsnuclear weapons program years earlier, according to current and former American officials. The officials said that assessment was largely reaffirmed in a 2010 National Intelligence Estimate, and that it remains the consensus view of America's 16 intelligence agencies.

At the center of the debate is the murky question of the ultimate ambitions of the leaders in Tehran. There is no dispute among American, Israeli and European intelligence officials that Iran has been enriching nuclear fuel and developing some necessary infrastructure to become a nuclear power. But the Central Intelligence Agency and other intelligence agencies believe that Iran has yet to decide whether to resume a parallel program to design a nuclear warhead — a program they believe was essentially halted in 2003 and which would be necessary for Iran to build a nuclear bomb. Iranian officials maintain that theirnuclear program is for civilian purposes.

In Senate testimony on Jan. 31, James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, stated explicitly that American officials believe that Iran is preserving its options for a nuclear weapon, but said there was no evidence that it had made a decision on making a concerted push to build a weapon. David H. Petraeus, the C.I.A. director, concurred with that view at the same hearing. Other senior United States officials, including Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have made similar statements in recent television appearances.

Those fretting about the "enrichment activities" should be aware of the huge, huge gap between fuel-grade enrichment and weapons-grade enrichment, as discussed here, and here in a less politically charged context.

See my blogging from last week on the New York Times' fretting in a Sunday paper story (traditionally more widely read) that Israel alone couldn't take out this dangerous nuclear program. Which, as this Saturday article explained, doesn't seem to even exist.

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  1. John, please pick up the white courtesy phone. Paging John. Please pick up the white courtesy phone.

    1. Racist!

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  2. And the US intelligence community has a superb track record in assessing WMD capabilities. See Iraq, 2003.

    1. Yes, they do have a tendency to overplay the threat presented by certain nations, so if they are saying don’t worry about Iran, then we really don’t need to worry about Iran. That is the point you’re trying to make, right?

      1. Lest we forget, these are the same clowns who missed the Soviet Union being on the verge of collapse. I’m not saying there’s a consistent bias to our intel, but expecting them to be consistently right is somewhat foolish.

        1. From a purely self-interested viewpoint, the intelligence bureaucracy has a strong incentive to play up threats in order to justify increased spending or at the very least to avoid budget cuts. If the CIA kept saying there was nothing to worry about, someone might question why we’re spending so much money on it.

          1. Maybe they are playing down this threat because Obama doesn’t want to be the guy to go to war again.

            1. Hmm, that is an interesting theory. I would buy it if he wasn’t more than happy to put our nose (and drones) in other people’s business.

      2. It seems just as likely that the world’s intelligence community’s pendulum has swung to the opposite extreme. They were burned badly by their faulty conclusions regarding Iraq, so maybe they have become risk averse and are just as wrong now.

    2. Exactly. We should always believe the opposite of whatever US spies say about other countries nuculor capabilities, which means Iran does have weapons, which means we must invade.

    3. And the US intelligence community has a superb track record in assessing WMD capabilities coming up with information that justifies what politicians already want to do. See Iraq, 2003.

  3. we no need no stinkin cut n run!

    bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb bomb iran…

    USA USA fuck yea!

    1. also bombing libyans maks me hard

  4. In ‘enrichment’ activities there is big difference between 5% and bomb-grade (>80%) not just in concentrations, but in a stat called ‘Separative Work Units.’

    You start with .07 natural naughty-235 assay in ore. You have to enrich that uranium more than seventy times higher in 235 ‘topes to get to five parts.

    But from 5% to 80% is only sixteen times more enriched. The work in a given ‘fuge cascade gives the same enrichment effort no matter the enriched ‘feedstock’ going in (that’s the hard SWU number).

    So if you’ve got 5% enriched U, you’ve done near 80% of the needed heavy lifting to get your Mullah-grade shit. It also lets you work your SWU’s like a bank, depositing the bulk of them now into five or ten percent enriched U to save for ‘later’ when you do your break-out Death to Israel shtick.

    Important relationship there which makes that 5% number far less benign than it appears.

    1. Think I bumbled my math here but to check stats frankly I’d get in trouble at work looking that shit up through our Digital Nanny switch. Damn. Someone correct me if I’m wrong please.

      1. A chunk of natural uranium on average has 0.72% U-235 (a numerical percent, not weight or volume). So, to get from 0.72 to 5% represents a roughly 7-fold enrichment. I had thought they were enriching to ~20% U-235, which would be a 28-fold enrichment.

        Regarding the OP, I don’t think the warhead design/fabrication time will be a significant bottleneck, compared to the time needed to acquire sufficient fissionable material. Plus fusible material, if we’re including the possibility of tritium injection.

        1. Their current spread I think is 3.5% – 20% I believe. Tritium you’d need to pull from a reactor, and it takes a lot of reactor to make not much tritium. They’d have to have an undeclared reactor (or a monster particle accelerator) to get tritium.

    2. I guess the key question, though, is whether you need different technology to refine from energy-grade to weapons-grade, or whether you can get there by just running it through the same gear a few more times.

      1. Same gear. More times.

  5. I don’t pretend to be an expert in these matters, but isn’t Iran’s maniacal obsession with its stated goal of building a nuclear power infrastructure suspicious in its own right? After all, they’re sitting on lots and lots of oil.

    Also, no warhead doesn’t mean no bomb. They could just smuggle a bomb into wherever they want or put it in a ship and pull it into a harbor.

    Not jumping on the war bandwagon, but I also don’t think concerns about Iran are fictional. More of an Israel problem than ours if we weren’t World Cop.

    1. They have oil, but not much in the way of refining capacity, from what I understand. They have to import gasoline.

      If Obama really wants to undermine them as a country, he should offer to subsidize solar generators.

      1. That’s brilliant. There’s an opening in State if you’d like to take your ideas to the big stage.

        1. I would be proud to make America better every day.

      2. They have oil, but not much in the way of refining capacity, from what I understand. They have to import gasoline.

        Many oil producing countries do.

        How much R&D and investment would be required to build up refining capacity vs. nuclear power?

        1. Judging by the United States, every subsequent addition to refining capacity costs at least double what the previous one did.

          1. I don’t think Iran has quite the NIMBYism and HSE issues a modern US refinery has.

          2. But should we judge by the United States (presuming I understand your meaning, here). Aren’t the US’s costs on this front due to a regulatory climate that I’m guessing the Ayatollah hasn’t put into place?

      3. The reason Iran needs nuclear power despite its beeing oil rich, is because the oil they don’t have to consume because of nuclear power is oil THEY CAN SELL TO MAKE MONEY.

    2. I can’t remember where I read it, but I came across a serious article as to why Iran needs nuclear energy. It basically came down to the fact that nuclear energy is the future, and that all countries will need to make that infrastructure investment.

      I know that in countries in Germany, nuclear energy has been essentially outlawed, but for most third world countries nuclear is probably the best investment, that includes Iran.

      1. Yes, but for a country like Iran, there are many, many other investments in the future that would make more sense.

        It’s got to be for joining the nuclear club.

        1. In rich countries such as Germany and America, people can afford to throw money down the toilet for solar panels and expensively insulated buildings and other green fantasies, in countries such as Iran not so much.

          I don’t know what coal reserves they have in Iran, but other than that, nuclear is the way to go.

          People always talk about democracies not going to war with each other (which can be debated). Nuclear powers however have never gone to war, Iran getting nuclear weapons would go a long way to increasing the peace. India and Pakistan are a good example, they hate each other as much as Iran and Israel do, had they not obtained nuclear weapons it is likely they would have gone to war by now.

          1. Non-proliferation seems to be more a hobby than a policy with the U.S., anyway.

        2. many other investments in the future that would make more sense.

          Sooo Iran is immune to boondoggles?

          In all honesty you should go in the other direction. Be suspicious of Iran because nuclear power is not stupid enough.

    3. As any drug dealer will tell you, you don’t use your own product. You can burn oil for energy but it may be more cost effective for the Iranians to use nuclear and sell the oil.

      1. H man and his fast fingers^^^

    4. isn’t Iran’s maniacal obsession with its stated goal of building a nuclear power infrastructure suspicious in its own right? After all, they’re sitting on lots and lots of oil.

      Perhaps they are worried about their carbon emissions.

      1. Or more probable they see that every nation worth a shit has a nuclear power program.

        Doesn’t Iran have a space program? Shouldn’t we be more fired up about that?

        When is the US going to start worrying about proliferation of easily militarized space age technology?

        This whole thing is drama intended to provoke the US into another stupid war.

        1. I will also point out that the existence of an Iranian space agency proves that Iran is not immune to boondoggles.

          The presence of Oil in Iran and “other investments that make more sense” is no proof that pursuing nuclear power is cover for a nuclear bomb.

          In fact one should assume their government is at least as stupid as ours when it comes to throwing tax payer money down a bottomless pit.

          1. Hey, genius. You know what a space agency is good for developing? ICBM technology.

            1. Hey, genius. You know what a space agency is good for developing? ICBM technology.

              I am going to quote myself here:

              Doesn’t Iran have a space program? Shouldn’t we be more fired up about that?

              When is the US going to start worrying about proliferation of easily militarized space age technology?

              reading is hard.

              The fact that the US war hawk politicians are unworried about space age technology and worried about nuclear power generation tells me that this is all bullshit.

              1. Um, they are worried about the space age stuff. It’s part of the threat matrix that has them freaking out. Are you saying you weren’t being sarcastic?

          2. However, claiming day and night that the jewish State should be wiped off the face of the earth should raise doubt about their “peaceful” intentions. Read Mein Kampf? it was all spelled out

  6. So the Iranians are trying to reduce their dependency on domestic oil?

    1. Maybe they’re doing it for Gaea?

  7. As someone appropriately asked a few days ago, why then did they kick all of the inspectors out of their country? Their government is acting as though it has a death wish or something.

    1. Hear hear! If they’ve got nothing to hide, they shouldn’t mind us poking around anything we want.

      Or moronic assertions to that effect.

      1. Doesn’t exactly answer the question though.

        1. Probably so that they can keep pretending to be the bad boy in the ME bloc. It makes more sense to keep people guessing so you can continue your blood libel with the JOOS going, rather than admit to the world you’re full of shit.

          1. Didn’t work out very well for Saddam…

        2. The dispute between the IAEA and Iran boils down to this:

          Iran says they are in compliance with the NPT, which requires them to grant access to the IAEA within a certain period of time after a nuclear facility or nuclear-related facility goes live.

          There are a couple of sites around Iran that the IAEA wants access to that Iran says don’t qualify under the NPT.

          So the IAEA guys say, “Let us in to site X” and Iran says, “No. You can go into sites A-V, but not site X, because site X is not eligible for inspection.”

          The IAEA left the latest round of site X talks. Iran didn’t kick them out. They just left.

    2. Maybe cause it’s none of our business. Or they have a death wish.

      Probably both.

      1. Maybe cause it’s none of our business.

        I’m not exactly sure what you mean by “our”, but verifying that signatory nations are complying with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is the entire freaking purpose of the I.A.E.A. and their inspectors, so the question is very much their business. And the last time I checked, Iran was still a party to the N.P.T.

        1. The mistake is giving a fuck about Iran. I’d really, really love to see them assemble some nuclear missiles, say, and launch them at the United States. It’ll take all of, what, an hour for us to grind them to dust for it?

          1. Why launch them? They could be set off from a boat parked just offshore.

            1. And they could do it without admitting it.

              1. I think that we can tell where the bomb came from by its radioactive fingerprints. But I’m not sure about that.

                1. I’ve heard that, but I always wondered whether it was necessarily so.

                  1. Yep. Its nigh on impossible to get radioisotopes to an immeasurable duplication. We can tell what plant and what batch by the impurities. Same with chemical explosives (although those are chemical impurities, obviously). Its pretty foolproof if you have a sample to compare to.

          2. Yeah. Same thing if they attack Israel. The US needs to stay the fuck out of this unless, and until actually attacked or seriously threatened. Israel has always proven to be quite able to defend themselves.

            1. The same rationale goes for the whole Middle east Muslim-Jewish face-off. Every time the Jews are about to thrash the Arabs once and for all the US steps in to save the Arab “allies” from total dismemberment. The US can simply stand on the sidelines and let Israel deal with the Arabs. And before you say “US aid” check out the aid given the Arabs by way of UNWRA, the dayton Force, the Egyptian army totally suited up by the US and the Hashmite army invested with 350 mil annually. Take all of theose out and thus level the field.

        2. Didn’t we already violate the treaty with some such other? Fluffy is more versed in it than I. IF we did, I think they are well within their rights to say fuck you.

        3. Some quick Wiki research shows the treaty took effect in 1970.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N…..reaty#Iran

          There may be more to it, and speak up if there is, but that would have made the regime under the Shaw a signatory.

          Are subsequent regimes to be held to treaties signed by their predecessors?

          1. Yes, treaties are considered to be permanently binding. If a subsequent government makes the determination that they no longer consider a treaty to be binding and no longer intend to abide by it, under international law they are supposed to formally make their intent to withdraw clear to all the other parties involved.

            1. So after the Revolutionary War, the US was bound by all British treaties until we proclaimed we would withdraw?

              I would think the opposite true.

              Got a reference?

              1. Technically the Declaration of Independence was our proclaimed withdrawal.

              2. The difference being that the mullahs succeeded to the Shah as rulers of Iran, and so inherited all the treaties, but we didn’t succeed to the King and Parliament as rulers of England, so we didn’t inherit.

            2. Iran claims to be in compliance with the NPT.

              That claim is not without merit.

              There’s no proof that they aren’t, in any event.

              Iran’s position is that the IAEA can have access to NPT-subject sites any time it wants.

              The IAEA also wants Iran to comply with several Security Council resolutions that directly contradict Iran’s NPT rights, and Iran says, “Go fuck yourself.” I can’t honestly blame them.

              1. Fluffy, any objections to folks quoting with attributions your short post here and above on this, because frankly, I’ve tried to explain this shit to people and I get nowhere. But I think the way you’ve put it might actually reach the folks I’m trying to eddicate.

                Mind you, my family’s all New York, Democratic Party, pro-Zionist Jews, with the exception of the one cousin who’s a Florida-born, Rockefeller Republican, pro-Zionist Jew and Air Force vet. So odds are I’m going to strike out regardless, but I keep trying.

  8. the fact that we think that they are thinking about building and/or not thinking about building a nuclear bomb…or because of atoms and quantum mechicans, being in a Heisenbergian indeterminate state about thinking about building a bomb, is no reason for us to not launch pre-emptive war….we need to collapse the ncertainty wave!

    1. Kudos to you sir, and your cogent and quamtumrific analysis of the serious issues at hand. Is there any possibility that you could work an undead (zombie) cat into your conjecture?

  9. What did the NIE say about North Korea just before they set off their (poorly made) nuke?

    1. Duh, ‘Fair and balanced’ means that you alternate with ‘boos’ and ‘cheers’
      -it’s their logo

    2. I don’t think this was intentionally done to make Bolton look good for the following reasons:

      – Bolton was roundly booed numerous times for his opinions during the same segment to the point that Stossel had to ask the audience to be polite.
      – What would be the point of inserting an extremely small smattering of applause in a show that has an extremely overt libertarian message with a host who was clearly disagreeing with Bolton’s message and an audience that most likely skews that way as well?

      To me it just looks like a natural edit to skip over a question to get to one they wanted to air given the time constraints.

      1. Get a load of the Fox News apologist over here.

        1. You’re right. They give Stossel a show and then choose 1 or 2 small moments per show to insert a neocon agenda to brainwash the 10 libertarian viewers into voting for Santorum.

          I think you’re an apologist for Big Live Blogging.

        2. Whatever. Ad homs by themselves only influence idiots. His argument seems air-tight to me. Do you even give a shit about that?

    3. Re: mark,

      Very likely Stossel had nothing to do with that poor and obvious edit job.

      1. I see:
        ‘if the edit don’t fit, you must acquit’ school of F&B propaganda

  10. The clowns are building at least the capacity for a bomb. That is the poorest-guarded secret of all.

    The ugly reality people need to admit is twofold:

    1. Iran wants bomb and is building out towards goal of getting one.

    2. The Iranian PEOPLE love them some bomb, want it real bad. Damn near only thing the Iranians have with bipartisan support is the mushroom operation. And the Iranians buy into ‘peaceful atoms’ shtick much as John Bolton – and love it.

    Going from there is the rational starting point.

  11. I guess it’s hard to finally put all of the pieces together to make the nuke when your scientists keep ending up dead.

    The most bizarre dynamic of the whole situation is the fact that the Iranian mullahs are currently in charge of the Shiite Arabs (see Hezbollah, etc.) but the Iranians are Persians. Then you have the Sunni Arabs run through the Saudis, who actually are Arabs.

    As much as Israel fears a nuclear armed Iran, the Saudi’s would be willing to pay a lot money to stop this from happening as well.

  12. Iran is acting as if it certainly wants everyone to believe it is working on a bomb. Much like Iraq did with other WMDs prior to our invasion.

    Even worse, Iran is certainly acting as if it wants to be able to get a bomb as soon as possible. Reading between the line a little, Iran is building up everything “dual-use” that it can without actually crossing the line into “military-only”. Now, whether that gets them 50% of the way there, or 95% of the way there, I have no idea.

    Intelligence consists of evaluating intentions (Iran wants a bomb) and capabilities (Iran is building up its capability to make a bomb). The rest is all handwaving about timelines.

    1. Maybe they want us to invade and rebuild their infrastructure? I mean, how does Iraq happen and they repeat the error? Ye gods.

      1. It may be a case of serious short-term thinking, along the lines of, “Lets see: Iraq gets invaded, but North Korea just gets threats, even when they shell and kill South Koreans. We should build a bomb so that we, too, can shell and kill South Koreans* without threat of becoming the next Iraq.”

        *it being a poorly kept secret that Iran hates South Koreans.

      2. “”Maybe they want us to invade and rebuild their infrastructure?””

        LOL. It’s not like you have any past examples at hand. 😉

        We’ve been actively at war in that region since Gulf War 1, over 20 years. We have troops in pretty much every country that surrounds Iran. We are a nuclear power. While I doubt Iran currently has a nuclear bomb, I do believe they feel the need to have a nuclear arsenal since the country they fear will attack them has a big arsenal.

      3. They repeat the “error” because they have concluded (correctly, IMO) that we will not repeat our “error”.

        1. Possibly. We’re a little unpredictable, though, so that’s a poor gamble.

    2. Well sure. After Libya, anyone who is on the US’s shitlist would be a fool NOT to look like they are working on a bomb.

  13. I think the important question that people seem to be glossing over here is: even if Iran has a bomb, so the fuck what?

    There’s only one country I know of that has used nukes against another one, and the US State Dept. has shown no inclination toward toppling that oppressive regime.

      1. You were saying?

      2. He means the US, nerd.

    1. Religious fundies with a nuke and no checks is a bad scene. The Soviets were rational actors, the Chinese are rational actors – both outfits field regimes relegating Iran to tiddley-winks league of Evil Nations.

      But their leaders weren’t waiting for their Great Clown to come out of a well and lead them to Armageddon.

      Its like Israel. They have many nukes and everyone goes to sleep just fine because their crazies are nowhere near those nukes. But now imagine those nutjob Orthodox Jews with their mystical Sabbath elevators and God-hates-you-for-having-a-cunt and all the rest. Put them on the button. Nobody sleeps safe that night. Unlucky ones won’t sleep at all. That shitty place is Iran.

      1. Do you mean Israel, Pakistan, or were you envisioning the US under President Santorum?

        1. I mean Iran clown.

      2. I am way more scared of North Korea trying to attack us than Iran. NK is certifiably insane. Fuck, Pakistan is a bunch of religious fundies with a nuke too and I’m not nearly as worried about them.

        1. Fortunately, they lack an effective delivery system (ie, ICBM). Yes, the nuke or dirty bomb in the hold of a cargo ship or plane could do a lot of damage. But then we’d turn their country into a sea of glass and nobody would say jack.

          1. Exactly.

      3. Good point. Remember when Matt Damon got all worked up about Sarah Palin having a finger on the bomb? Dumb as she is, when’s the last time she openly declared her intention to wipe another country off the map?

  14. There is no doubt the mullahs are fucking crazy enough to rattle their sabers much like Saddam did.

    But just because they didn’t learn a lesson from Iraq doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have. Best to be prepared to act, but not act foolishly.

    1. No delivery system, though. Really, this is not our problem.

    1. Don’t forget that we overthrew their elected leader and installed a despotic puppet regime or that we gave support to the Iraqis when they invaded under Saddam. But no, we are supposed to be afraid of them. It’s so absurd that you almost have to laugh.

      1. Little known fact: LBJ and Nixon were actually Iranian plants, so they’ve fucked us up as much as we’ve fucked them.

        1. I lol’d.

        2. “LBJ and Nixon were actually Iranian plants, so they’ve fucked us up as much as we’ve fucked them.”

          Am I the only one who has had the thought that the back-to-back LBJ/Nixon combo is similar to the back-to-back Bush/Obama one?

          1. No, you’re right. Wilson, FDR, then the LBJ/Nixon back-to-back were the biggest lurches towards statism that we had, IMO, before the current Bush/Obama run.

        3. Worth linking to these oldies but goodies from the War Nerd, wondering if Cheney was an Iranian mole, or if him and W were Al Qaeda moles.

  15. Can we afford to wait and see? The consequences of getting this wrong could be a crater where Washingtob DC used to be, and I for one would miss the Smithsonian and Reason Magazine.

    1. Dr. Rice, Is that you?

    2. “”I for one would miss the Smithsonian and Reason Magazine.””

      Tim Cavanaugh will rebuild Reason from the west coast. Perhaps Stratfor will give the contributing writers a heads up so they can get out of harms way.

    3. Look, Tim, we already live in a world where North Korea has nuclear bombs, and there is no government more paranoid and unhinged. Eventually every country that wants nukes will have them and we can’t stop them all.

      1. You missed the sarcasm, didn’t you?

        1. I didn’t catch it either.

          Your sarcasm needs more hyperbole.

      2. Present.

  16. Screw uranium bombs. Those are for pussies.

    Plutonium is where it’s at.

    But you can’t get plutonium without nuclear fission, which creates an awful lot of heat.

    But if you use that heat to make electricity, you can produce all kinds of plutonium and the general public is none the wiser. You sell it as electricity (ha!) when the real purpose is material for some bad-ass bombs.

    At least that’s what they did in this country.

    I wonder what they’re doing in Iran.

    1. Playing Angry Birds?

    2. But if you use that heat to make electricity, you can produce all kinds of plutonium and the general public is none the wiser. You sell it as electricity (ha!) when the real purpose is material for some bad-ass bombs.

      Yes, which is why Carter (I think) made the once-through fuel cycle part of the NPT. You can’t use reactors to produce more fuel (breeders). You can only take some uranium, burn it, then shut down the reactor and take it out.

      It wastes all kinds of fuel in the name of NPT. You can tell from space which reactors are active and which ones are shut down, so that’s how the soviets/U.S. monitored each other to see how often their reactors where being shut down to remove the fuel.

      1. Isn’t part of the problem that you have to often remove the fuel, as otherwise the fuel is too enriched in mostly inseparable Pu isotopes that interfere with a successful detonation? That requires constantly shutting down the reactor or being able to withdraw fuel elements while under power. IIRC, if the latter, then you need a special type of reactor configuration for that, like the RBMKs at Chernobyl. Or the reactors at Savannah River or Hanford for that matter.

        1. I’m a EE who’s had a course in nuclear. From what I remember, yes, there were many different flavors of reactors that used different fuel mixtures and had different ways to cool them. The Canadians in particular came up with a very efficient and clean design that you didn’t have to shut down very often.

          Ah, just found my textbook. They’re called CANDU reactors and can use natural uranium as fuel. Most other types have to use a mixture of enriched uranium. They use heavy water for cooling and can refueled without shutting the reactor down.

          In most reactors, plutonium is a byproduct – which can also be used as more fuel, or very for weapons.

          My professor also mentioned that if you’re making a uranium bomb, you have to enrich it. Enriching uranium is a big manufacturing process that’s difficult to hide. Plutonium is easier to separate, but harder to detonate.

  17. Dear Prudence,
    I have a wonderful cleaning woman. She does a great job and I pay her well. There’s just one thing. Right before she leaves my house, she makes a big stinky poop that renders the powder room gaggingly unusable for a few hours, despite my opening windows, turning on the fan, and setting out candles. The powder room is on the first floor of the house, and I work from my home office right across from it, so this is an issue.

    http://www.slate.com/articles/…..ry_.2.html

    1. Wasn’t this what The Help was about?

    2. Trust me, that’s a small price to pay for a good cleaning woman. Hell, if I could find one that met Mrs. Dean’s standards (she apparently believes that every room of the house should be ready to serve as an emergency OR at any time), I’d say the cleaning woman can get her stank on anytime she wants.

    3. I am so hot right now.

    4. Here’s an easy fix: tell the cleaning lady that the powder room is for guests and she’s family. Use the master bath.

      1. there’s a nig, nig, nig (horse baying) in the master’s bath

        >clevon little – i gots something to show yall (women gasping)

    5. Wait, I’ve got it, have her clean the Iranian nuke facilities; she’ll stop ’em dead in their tracks faster than a bunker buster.

    6. Ask her to use the upstairs bathroom.

      Problem solved.

  18. Assume Iran gets a bomb, coordinates with Hez and detonates it somewhere in Israel. Then what? Iran’s infrastructure is destroyed, all mullahs are killed, millions of civilians die, Persians abroad are extrajudicially persecuted.

    Is that the typical projected scenario when justifying a preemptive strike?

    1. Exactly. Any use or attempted use of a nuke by Iran would result in an Iran-shaped parking lot within a week.

      If they are building a bomb, it is as a bulwark against American invasion.

      1. “”it is as a bulwark against American invasion.””

        That’s largely my belief.

        1. Which is why we need to invade them before we can’t anymore, amirite? I mean, we’re going to invade them eventually, might as well knock it off the list early.

      2. That’s always been my assumption. It’s an American invasion deterrent.

        1. My guess is Iran wants bomb so they can be much more open and pushy with Hezbollah and associated antics with a certain impunity missing from such operations now.

          Plus, look at their leadership. Tiny men with tiny pricks who hate women trying to make up for so many inadequacies with Bigger Guns.

          It sounds obscene and simple, but when you look at kinds of fools such ‘ecosystems’ produce that’s part of the psychological problem.

      3. Any use or attempted use of a nuke by Iran would result in an Iran-shaped parking lot within a week.

        We probably couldn’t muster the political will for a counter-attack. Make no mistake, the American Left would blame Israel, just to prevent the American Right from feeling vindicated.

        Not sure if I’m kidding or not at this point.

    2. If they are building a bomb, it is as a bulwark against American invasion.

      1. To be fair, Israel doesn’t even need our help on this one. If Iran tries anything serious against the Israelis, it’s fucked.

        1. You might be overestimating Israel’s capabilities. If ‘trying anything serious’ involves dropping one on Tel Aviv, I don’t think it’s much comfort to Israel that they have a powerful second strike capability. (You know they have a no initiation nuclear policy, right?)

      2. Precisely, but I’ve been trying to leave that player out of the discussion because it’s partisans often show up to shut down any debate that isn’t sufficiently deferential to the stated needs of said player.

  19. Give your head a shake. We may have seen J-Lo’s nipple last night and you’re busy talking about Iran!

  20. I don’t worry about NORK nukes (much), because they won’t do a damn thing with them unless and until the ChiComs give them the green light.

    I worry more about Paki nukes, because there’s a ton of Paki Islamonutters both in and out of government, and I don’t trust the Pakis to maintain good security on their warheads.

    I rate Iranian nukes (when they make some, and they will) as a little worse than Paki nukes. On the one hand, the mullahs will probably have better security on theirs. On the other, they will feel free to go wild abusing their neighbors once they have their own nuclear umbrella. And that won’t end well.

    1. Which, again, will provide us with justifiable cause to burn them to ash. I don’t think even these barbarians are willing to risk utter annihilation for a few weeks of noo-kew-lar fun with its non-Muslim neighbors.

      1. *their

      2. Well, if it because some moron in the neighboring nation burnt a Koran, then the attack is justifiable. In fact, they’ll probably get an apology from President Obama instead of a rain of MIRVs.

    2. I would wager that if they want a nuke it would be for deterrent, not as an excuse to abuse their neighbors.
      Their military is based more around defense than offense.

      1. Their military is based more around defense than offense.

        Their Quds force habitually operates in other nations, you know.

        1. My offense I meant conquest.

          1. The Iranians are adept at abusing their neighbors without the mess and expense of conquering them.

            1. Well, that puts them one up on the Saudis, whose tanks drove into Bahrain to massacre unarmed protestors.

              I think that ranks as worse “meddling” and “abuse” than sending one faction in the Lebanon mess arms or support. Especially since just about EVERYBODY is sending one faction or another in Lebanon arms or support.

              1. I agree: the Saudis lack the cunning and subtlety that the Iranians have shown in Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and various stateless bits around Israel currently occupied by soi-disant “Palestinians”.

        2. “”Their Quds force habitually operates in other nations, you know.””

          No other country beats us at that game.

    3. It’s all a matter of opinion, but I feel safer about Iranian nukes than I do Paki nukes. They Pakis hate the Indians as much as Iran hates anybody else, and as you correctly point out, I think their security is a lot worse than the Iranians. Iran sucks, but it is at least a (as compared to Pakistan) stable, functioning state. Pakistan could collapse into chaos at the slightest provocation.

      1. Except that the “pakis” are not trying to bring about Armageddon and are not constantly boasting they’d destroy Israel knowing full well they’d be destroyed themselves. Even the Soviets never wanted to destroy themselves.

        1. …and are not constantly boasting

          I think the key part of this is that boastful words =/= action.

          1. words =/= action

            Exactly.

            1. Great, so they don’t have weapons now, they only claim they want them and will use them when they have them. But fear not people! They’re only words! What harm can words do?

              Why do you live in such denial? Does it make you feel more comfortable to believe that these religious fanatics are bluffing? Believe me, they aren’t. “Palestinian” suicide murderers only use words in their goodbye videos (for want of a better phrase) but those words DO become actions soon afterwards.

              1. I think it is pretty silly to compare impoverished Palestinians resorting to martyrdom with wealthy Iranian mullahs.
                They’re rich, power hungry politicians, just like political leaders anywhere else.
                They didn’t amass all that power because they’re stupid or because they want to throw it all away, and they’re certainly not going to commit mass suicide.

                Apply some common sense.

                As far as Ahmadinejad goes, the Iranian president is roughly equivalent to our Secretary of State. He has very little power. His job is to spout off at the mouth. So that’s what he does.

                1. I think it is pretty silly to compare impoverished Palestinians resorting to martyrdom with wealthy Iranian mullahs.

                  Plenty of suicide bombers don’t come from poor backgrounds, you know.

              2. Well, there’s boasting and then there’s boasting.

                For example, just this weekend there was breathless reporting and pants-wetting about an Iranian defense official’s statement that the armed forces stand ready to strike Israel.

                Of course, the full statement was that they stood ready to strike Israel if Israel attacked them.

                Which is nearly a tautology.

                1. the armed forces stand ready to strike Israel.

                  How, I wonder?

                  1. Don’t they have a fleet in Syrian ports right now?

                2. That sort of tautology is standard mad dictator threat-talk. ‘If country X insists on threatening us, we will be forced to respond, etc etc’. A pretext will always be found.

                  1. How libertarians twist the facts to make dictators appear harmless never ceases to amaze me. As nice as the comfy life is, sometimes we have to accept there are people out there who mean us harm, proclaiming them innocent and harmless just to avoid confrontation is going to change that.
                    You know the Iranian government has built a boulevard to welcome back the 12th Imam? That’s essentially the Islamic equivalent of Jesus coming through the clouds during the rapture. And these people will be harmless when they get the bomb that they only boast they want? Delusion can be convenient sometimes and very dangerous at others.

  21. So Iran isn’t making actual ammunition – they are just perfecting their gunpowder mix, researching primers, and stockpiling shell cases. When they are done, they won’t have any ammo at all – just everything need to make lots of it laid out on a table.

  22. Can we all at least agree that sanctioning Iran is stupid and has pretty much strengthend the regime and made it bolder?

    1. stronger?

    2. They have 21% inflation right now. Whatever other sociopolitical forces may be at work, there’s a certain finite amount of time that situation can be sustained before something gives.

  23. The Iranian government has never shown interest in nuclear weapons design. Why are libertarians always so keen to proclaim enemies of the West innocent no matter what?

    1. Operation Merlin is an alleged United States covert operation…

      Lay off the Coast to Coast. Seriously. That stuff is just entertainment.

    2. John is that you?

    3. I’m not “Ghost”, but it’s something conceivable, if highly unlikely. I mean, we (and/or the Israelis) infiltrated Stuxnet into the Iranian’s infrastructure, why not this means of sabotaging their program. I am having a difficult time though of figuring out how you could make up a set of plans that wouldn’t yield a functioning device, yet would be plausible to a nuclear physics post-doc.

      Far more likely, IMHO, will be sharing with Iran information on warhead design, once its a fait accompli that they’re going to get them, in the interest of increasing the Iranians’ control of them and decreasing the chances of illicit use. Help them make it so their warheads can only be detonated by the legitimate national authority, and paradoxically, we’ll all be safer, should the devices be lost/stolen. I’m guessing something similar’s already happened with Pakistan.

      1. Sorry for ripping off your name there, didn’t mean to do that. Yeah my name is not John and Project Merlin is not something I heard about from some dippy conspiracy theory obsessed radio show, it was a very real operation in which the US saw an opportunity to sabotage the Iranian nuclear weapons program by providing them with flawed designs. Just like practically everything else the US government does, it failed, but if if those Iranians only want the fuel for power plants (if only Iran had a reliable source of oil…) then it does beg the question: why were they looking for nuclear weapons designs in the first place?

  24. I don’t mean to make a case of moral equivalence, but looking at libya it seems the only rational thing to do is get the bomb. The lesson from another’s point of view could easily be: play along with U.S. interests and they’ll act all buddy buddy until they smell blood, then they’ll kill you and your entire family.

  25. It wouldn’t have killed Obama to have backed the revolutionaries who took to the streets of Iran early in his term. It would have made him look naive and foolish to have thought he could negotiate with a government whose own people could not negotiate with it but it was a golden opportunity that is not likely to come again. As it is, it only postponed the day when he was proven naive and foolish and made the situation tougher for everyone on all sides. All he had to do was eschew his ego and do an about face.

    Now that the internal opposition has been crushed things will be much more difficult and we have lost some of the moral high ground.

  26. Question for the Libertarian folks because when I ask lefty-wimps and righty-chicken hawks I get crickets and blinking:

    How the fuck would Israel attack Iran if it wanted to?

    When they bombed Osirak, it was with 16’s and 15’s flying cover. And they were on vapors making it back to Israel.

    Given how many more targets that much farther away, what else do the Israelis have? They don’t have a big bomber, or bases all over. And this isn’t shit Predator with a hellfire can fix. You need big-energy munitions by trainload to smash-mouth a program buried and redundant as Iran’s. Even if you knew where everything was.

    Only thing they have really that can lash out is the nuke-bits. Now that would surprise the Iranians!

    1. Good point. They may have bases in Azerbaijan. Otherwise they’ll need US cooperation for mid-flight refueling. Iran likes to pretend Israel is a regional aggressor, but the IDF is made for home defense, nearby incursions and rapid armor deployment. I guess that’s why they’re opting for assassinations. Long may it continue.

    2. what else do the Israelis have?

      Jericho III missiles.

  27. This is obviously reminiscent of Iraq. Why would Saddam Hussein resist weapons inspectors when he didn’t really have any WMD? Turns out megalomaniacs are irrational–who knew?!

    So now we’re in a similar situation. Iran has enormous energy reserves in oil and natural gas, why they would need nuclear energy is a mystery.

    If they don’t have them?

    I think that’s may be beside the point.

    This isn’t a scientific experiment. There’s no need to scientifically prove Iran has a nuclear weapons program. This is risk management. Risk management is about what we should do now given various uncertainties in the future. Whether they really have a nuclear weapons program is almost beside the point.

    There’s no evidence that my house will burn down this summer, but I think I’ll pay my fire insurance premiums anyway.

    1. Oh, by the way, my opposition to the Iraq War, as some of you may recall, was never predicated on WMD. I thought Saddam had ’em for sure!

      My opposition was predicated on a few things: humanitarian concerns, cost/benefit analysis, and strategic concerns (Our efforts in Iraq would play into the hands of Iran, which really was a state sponsor of terror with a WMD program…)

      I oppose war with Iran at this point, but if we don’t have definitive evidence of their nuclear weapons program in progress, I don’t see why that should be a big deal either way.

      If a nuclear armed Iran is a serious threat to the security of the United States, then waiting around for them to actually build the bombs sounds pretty irresponsible–even if I’m against war with Iran.

      Just because I’m against war at this point, doesn’t mean I have to pretend the Iranian government’s intentions are better than they are.

      1. Iraq never tried to build nuclear weapons either. How does the sand taste?

        And in case any of you can’t be bothered scrolling down the page to find out who wrote this book it was not Alex Jones nor even some trigger happy US general, it was the man actually working to make Iraq’s nukes.

  28. @Doherty you are off on the leu to heu

    Dont have time to dig up the most recent estimates of their centrifuges to give you a time measure but –

    with a 10:1 feed to product and a target of 3.5% with tails of 0.4% (once estimated for Iran) gives 3.648 kg SWU/yr. You will need 1015 kg product to feed again to get 27kg @95% with 1% tails. To get the 1015kg of LEU requires 10119 kg U and uses 3691 kg SWU/yr. To get the 27kg uses (only) an additional 1390 kg SWU/yr

    Most of the work is done in getting the LEU.

  29. Up to November 1944 no one could produce evidence for the use of gas chambers in Auschwitz convincing enough to do something about it. After all, it was gassing mainly Jews, so it was not important enough to risk pilots and machines to stop the slaughter.
    Nothing but the annihilation of 3-4 million Jews will convince American intelligence that Iran, indeed, has the capacity to build a nuclear explosive device. However, i dont think the present generation of Jewish leadership will wait for proof positive as Americans require for Judeocidal ideation

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