Friday, September 01, 2006


The IAEA report states that inspectors found traces of highly-enriched uranium a year ago in an Iranian nuclear facility. This time, the IAEA analysis states that it did not come from contaminated Pakistani equipment:

The global nuclear monitoring agency deepened suspicions on Thursday about Iran’s nuclear program, reporting that inspectors had discovered new traces of highly enriched uranium at an Iranian facility. Inspectors have found such uranium, which at extreme enrichment levels can fuel bombs, twice in the past. The International Atomic Energy Agency concluded that at least some of those samples came from contaminated equipment that Iran had obtained from Pakistan.

But in this case, the nuclear fingerprint of the particles did not match the other samples, an official familiar with the inspections said, raising questions about their origin.

In a six-page report to the United Nations Security Council on Thursday, the agency withheld judgment about where the material came from and whether it could be linked to a secret nuclear program.

The excuse from the previous find was that the Pakistanis had not thoroughly cleaned the machinery Iran bought through the AQ Khan network. Analysts told the IAEA after months of study that the new sample came from a completely different source, which indicates that the Iranians produced it themselves. Not only that, but the level of enrichment significantly exceeds anything required for civilian energy production.

Of course, this could only surprise people who have either slept for the past ten years or are pathological optimists. Ahmadinejad has rejected an incentive package that would have all but given Iran peaceful nuclear energy, instead opting to pursue enrichment themselves, apparently with a lot of success.

That success led them to start barring IAEA inspectors from key sites. The agency states in its report that it has declining confidence in its ability to provide a complete picture on Iranian nuclear efforts as a result. That means that the information on Iran's program will become increasingly less reliable, a big danger considering the stakes of the decisions that have to be made on increasingly incomplete information, but it begs the question: if Iran only wants peaceful, civilian nuclear energy, then why all the secrecy?

None of this has apparently moved the Russians and the Chinese. According to Robert Einhorn, former State Department head on nonproliferation under the Clinton administration, only a "smoking gun" will convince them to support sanctions. Unfortnately, the only smoking object that would qualify for Russian and Chinese firmness would be the radioactive remains of Tel Aviv.

No comments: