Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Latest IAEA report on Iran really isn't as dramatic as the media suggests

I just finished reading the latest IAEA report on Iran and it is very clearly not as dramatic as various media reports and commentators have suggested. There really aren't any major "smoking guns" an Iran simply isn't "at the threshold" of having even a single nuclear weapon. Yes, Iran is continuing with uranium enrichment, yes Iran continues to drag their feet on answering IAEA questions and accessing all facilities, yes Iran had a number of nuclear weapon design activities going on through 2003, and yes there MAY have been some design and test-related activities in recent years, but the report simply does not detail and recent activity that would suggest that any Manhattan Project-scale of weapon activity is going on in Iran.
Mostly this was simply a current status report of the ongoing IAEA work and a little refinement of details along the timeline of the last decade (and even back to 1997 and even 1987), and a reiteration of the simple fact that the IAEA needs more cooperation from Iran.
A common theme in the report: "As a result of Iran's lack of cooperation on those issues, the Agency is unable to verify and report fully on these matters."
There is some indication of design work occurring in 2005, but nothing truly definitive.
About the strongest and clearest and specific thing the IAEA can say is:
The Agency has serious concerns regarding possible  military dimensions to Iran's nuclear programme. After assessing carefully and critically the extensive information available to it, the Agency finds the information to be, overall, credible. The information indicates that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device. The information also indicates that prior to the end of 2003, these activities took place under a structured programme, and that some activities may still be ongoing.
They can't definitively tell us that the bulk of these activities ARE ongoing, just that "some activities may still be ongoing." Doesn't sound like a Manhattan Project to me.
We had more than that going into Iraq, and look how well that turned out in terms of validating the purported evidence.
So, let's keep the IAEA at it and maybe one day they will turn up a truly credible smoking gun.
But, most importantly, let's cease and desist with the incessant drumbeat for military action in Iran.


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