Thursday, August 21, 2008

Can the Iranian nuke project be destroyed?

Alex Fishman argues that the Iranian nuclear project cannot be destroyed because they have developed a "giant infrastructure." But the fact is, they are only still developing it. They do not have an operational nuclear system or nuclear ballistic missile system. The Germans were developing a huge military infrastructure in 1937, but it was not ready yet. An early invasion would have found them unready, and probably would have toppled the Nazi regime. The problem is to find enough targets, which are carefully hidden, that are vital to the nuclear development project, and to gain international legitimacy for strikes that would probably involve numerous civilian casualties, as many of those targets are in populated areas for precisely that reason - to deter a strike.
Alex Fishman
Published:  08.18.08, 16:14 / Israel Opinion
It's not the new Iranian toy satellite that worries Israel's security experts. What bothers them much more is the fact that Iran's "space show" Sunday revealed yet another piece of this giant puzzle, which makes up the strategic threat being built before our eyes.

Every time another trace of what goes on in the Ayatollah kingdom is revealed, it turns out we're facing a giant infrastructure with many arms, starting from the uranium mines and culminating with a nuclear warhead. Those who believe this infrastructure can be destroyed in some kind of aerial strike or another are hallucinating. The regime in Tehran is the only one able to stop this project.
Between the mines and the nuclear labs there are tens of thousands of scientists and engineers, research institutes, and plants involved in producing ballistic missiles. And now, the Iranians exposed their space aspirations.
On Sunday, the Iranians in fact declared that they closed the circle: They already have ballistic missiles, they knows how to enrich uranium using centrifuges or lasers, they may also be advancing on the plutonium track, the plans for a nuclear warhead are already in the works, and now they made a public entry into the satellite era. The intelligence and communication satellites are aimed at serving Iran's nuclear arsenal and making it much more effective.
The satellite launched by the Iranians Sunday is really the beginning of the road. As long as they do not possess the technological capability to fire a 300-400 kg (roughly 650 – 880 pounds) satellite into space, they are still not members of this club. What we saw was the launch of a missile that did not explode upon firing or in the air. This doesn't say much about prospects of future success, but it's a start.

Constant Iranian progress
When Israel fired its intelligence satellites, it in fact showcased its technological capabilities, and its ability to independently produce high-quality missile systems and fire a satellite to a precise spot. This can hint to capabilities that Israel possesses, or not, when it comes to ground-to-ground missiles.

With the Iranians, it's the opposite process. They don't need to hint to anyone they have ballistic missiles: they already showed them. What's new here is the fact the Iranians are not stopping for a moment to build their strategic threat. If international pressures prompt a temporary break in one area - for example, developing nuclear warheads (as the Americans claim) - they boost the pace of progress in other areas, such a satellites, which is a completely legitimate track, or in less legitimate areas, such as uranium enrichment.

After all, ultimately all these tracks will come together at one point. Yet the Western world, captivated in a sort of repression or crazy denial, doesn't really believe it will happen.

This immense Iranian project cannot be stopped by bombing one facility or another. In the early 1980s, there was one core reactor that Iraq received from France. The moment it was destroyed, the project was eliminated. This time around, we are dealing with a monster being built before our eyes and the eyes of the world. Only intense international persuasion could, perhaps, take this project off track.

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