Iran: The Nuclear Option

Reuters reported that “Iran and six world powers clinched a deal on Sunday to curb the Iranian nuclear programme in exchange for initial sanctions relief, signalling the start of a game-changing rapprochement that would reduce the risk of a wider Middle East war.

““Aimed at easing a long festering standoff, the interim pact between Iran and the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China, and Russia won the critical endorsement of Iranian clerical Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

However, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the agreement as an “historic mistake.”  Critics in Congress also quickly voiced concern.   Some raised the specter of failure, Reuters reported, to rein in North Korea on its nuclear programs.  But they signaled that Congress would likely give the deal a chance to work.

“The agreement was announced in the middle of the night in Geneva after long and tortuous negotiations.”  Obama, seeking to improve ties with Iran even before winning his first election in 2008, said it cut off Tehran’s possible routes to a nuclear bomb.

USA Today reports that in the six-month interim deal, Iran agreed to limit nuclear activities in return for relief of up to $7 billion in sanctions that have hurt its economy.  Obama called the agreement “an important first step” but said sanctions can be reapplied if the Iranians violate it.

Obama opined that the agreement opens “a new path to a world that is more secure” in a speech at the White House, adding “Iran cannot use negotiations as cover to advance its (nuclear) program.”

“Israel has been briefed on the interim agreement, according to a senior White House official. Administration officials said the deal addresses several of Israel’s most serious concerns about Iran’s nuclear program — including Iran growing its supply of 20% uranium and the Arak reactor coming online.

“But on Sunday,” USA Today writes, “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted the deal,” stating that the agreement leaves Iran with its nuclear capabilities mostly intact. He said Israel will not be bound by the deal and that ‘Israel has the right and the duty to defend itself by itself.’”

The agreement entails the following five details:

1. Uranium enrichment: Iran agrees to stop producing medium enriched uranium, which represents 90% of the effort to produce weapons grade material, and stop developing new fuel production machines, called centrifuges, which can produce fuel for a nuclear weapon.

2. Heavy water reactor in Arak: Iran agrees not to install critical components or fuel at its heavy water reactor in Arak, which could produce enough plutonium for two nuclear weapons a year.

3. Stockpiles: Iran agrees to neutralize its medium enriched nuclear fuel. Iran cannot expand its stockpile of low enriched uranium, which is now enough to produce at least four nuclear weapons.

4. Safeguards: The deal provides for daily visits by international inspectors to Iran’s uranium enrichment sites in Natanz and Fordow.

5. Sanctions: In return, Western powers have agreed not to impose new nuclear-related sanctions for six months, if Iran abides by its commitments, and to give Iran about $7 billion in relief on oil, gold, auto exports and educational cash reserves.

Smartest-Man-in-the-Room Charles Krauthammer, speaking on Fox News’ Special Report on Monday, says he believes Obama’s deal with Iran is “the worst deal since Munich.”

“This is a sham from beginning to end. It’s the worst deal since Munich. It’s really hard to watch the President and the Secretary of State and not think how they cannot be embarrassed by this deal.”

The Munich Agreement of 1938 between Hitler and major European powers expanded Germany’s borders. Today, the failed negotiation is widely considered an act of appeasement.

Politico.com noted that Krauthammer expressed deep skepticism that Iran would act in good faith and said that the country would retain its capacity to enrich uranium. He also added that the decreased sanctions outlined by the administration would provide an influx of cash to alleviate shortages in the country and reduce inflation, reducing incentives for the Iranian regime to comply with international nonproliferation efforts.

“’[I]t undermines the entire idea of nonproliferation, and it grants Iran a right it’s been lusting for for a decade. That’s why there was so much jubilation in Tehran over this,’” Krauthammer said.

He also noted that Iranian scientists could easily reverse the physical process.

In another post on Fox News.com, physicist David Albright, founder of the Institute for Science and International Security, quotes Charles D. Ferguson, president of the Federation of American Scientists, who writes, “The weekend deal reached by the U.S. and five other world leaders to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting some sanctions requires Iran to take uranium that had been enriched to 20 percent — most of the way to weapons-grade — and convert it into uranium dioxide (UO2). But that process is readily undone,”

“This is a meaningful barrier right now, but it’s not a permanent barrier,” Ferguson told FoxNews.com. “They might have the ability to make a facility to reconvert it … close to a dozen countries have that process.  ‘There are several chemical steps, but Iran knows how to do them.’

“Ferguson,” the column goes on to note, “who has consulted with the National Nuclear Security Administration and served in the Office of the Senior Coordinator for Nuclear Safety at the U.S. Department of State, said the chemistry process is well understood. But the weekend agreement does buy some time for diplomacy.

“I don’t think this deal is perfect but each side has a compromise — and at least this buys some time for about six months,” he said.

“Iran has already converted some of its 440 pounds of 20-percent uranium into uranium dioxide at facilities within the country, but those plants can’t convert the oxide back into nuclear fuel, explained Albright.  ‘It’s reversible, but not that quickly.  There are several chemical steps, but Iran knows how to do them.’

“To get weapons-grade fuel, uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas is pumped through a centrifuge to remove fluorine atoms — essentially a giant salad spinner that concentrates the fissile isotope U235 in the gas. After multiple passes through the spinning centrifuge, the concentration of that isotope increases, Ferguson explained.

“Centrifuges can refine UF6 to three different stages: At 3.5 percent, the output is good enough for reactor fuel. Enriched to 20 percent, it can be used in scientific and medical research. But it’s also just a step away from the 90-percent level, where it can be used as weaponized uranium.

“’It may seem at first that 20 to 90 is a big gap. But b enriching up to that 20-percent level, you’re actually doing the work you need to get up to weapons-grade levels … it’s relatively quick to [convert it] to 90 percent,’ Ferguson told FoxNews.com.

“Converting 20-percent uranium into oxide would take it a step away from weapons-caliber.  For Iran to then reconvert it, the country would need to construct a sizable building for the multi-stage process.

“’They would have to create a facility where the chemical forms can be changed,” Albright explained.

“There are several intermediate steps behind between uranium oxide and UF6. Oxygen must be stripped out and fluorine added back in, a substance that is extremely toxic and corrosive and therefore requires special facilities.

“’Iran can do it, but it’s not something they can set up in a day,’ he told FoxNews.com.”

So, the West, China and Russia are willing to part with $7 billion for at most six months’ security.  Meanwhile, Iran may do just what Germany did in violating the Versailles Treaty while we take the word of the United Nations, a dubious international body, that they’re honoring the agreement.

The hub-bub results in drawing the attention of Attention Deficit Disordered Americans away from Obamacare, which may be postponed until after next year’s elections, at which time most American businesses will have been forced to drop their company health care plans because they don’t meet the new laws regulations and Iran will have had the time to convert their uranium oxide back into weapons-grade nuclear weapons.

Curiously, Kerry headed the Senate investigation into the Iran-Contra deal, which traded drugs for arms for Iran in its war against Iraq.  It was deal that never happened; the whole thing was made up of whole cloth and cheese, but Kerry was able to score some major Media damage against the Reagan administration.  Reagan weathered the storm unscathed; the public on the other hand, to this day, believes the story.

But that’s a tale for another day.  Perhaps when we’re huddled by a makeshift fire burning low inside our blasted out furnaces in the basements of our flattened homes in the hills of New Jersey, in the aftermath of a nuclear explosion, we’ll tell our children the tale of a traitorous president and his sinister foreign minister (Secretary of State) Hari Kerry.

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Published in: on November 26, 2013 at 8:39 am  Leave a Comment  

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