Iran’s Dual Path to Nuclear Arms
The Telegraph released images of a heavy-water production plant in Iran on February 26. Heavy-water plants such as this are crucial in developing plutonium, which can be used in nuclear warheads.
The images came out a day ahead of a P5+1 meeting held in Almaty, Kazakhstan. In the meeting, the United States, Russia, France, Britain, China and Germany came together with Iran in an attempt to find a way to stop Iran’s nuclear program. The meeting ended with a proposal to Iran that would ease sanctions on the condition that Iran suspend, but not close down, its enrichment facility in Fordo.
The talks were fruitless. The Iranians are too far along to stop now. Look at the Iranian pursuit of nuclear weapons in the past. No amount of sanctions can stop them. When Iran has stopped its work in the past it has only been temporary, or a flat-out lie. Europe was pushing Iran to stop centrifuge-based uranium enrichment back in 2003. The Iranians seemed compliant, yet they continued developing the technology, if not the enrichment. We are 10 years on and Iran has the technology. If it stops uranium enrichment, it will have another option, as it did back in 2003.
The heavy-water plant can be used to create plutonium. If Iran stops producing uranium, it can turn its attention to plutonium.
Heavy water is used to fuel the reactors from which plutonium rods are extracted and processed into weapons-grade material. It is an intricate process, but all the science aside, plutonium can be used to make a bomb. Iran isn’t the first to come up with the idea of using plutonium to get around a lack of enriched uranium. It is looking to Asia to see how it is done.
North Korea has been busy detonating warheads this month. There is speculation as to whether the explosion was created using plutonium or uranium. The first two that North Korea tested were plutonium explosions.
Iran may choose to deny it is working toward obtaining nuclear weapons, but its actions speak louder than words. There are at least 50 batteries of anti-aircraft guns protecting the plant and three surface-to-air missile sites surrounding the complex. It has denied access to inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency since August 2011. The international community only knows what it can see from satellite imagery. Why would Iran choose to hide something if it were there for peaceful purposes? Why guard an innocent facility? The honest man has nothing to fear.
The P5+1 nations may be trying to slow Iran’s enrichment process, but Iran has multiple pathways to choose from. Iran may stop uranium enrichment, receive the ease on sanctions that is promised to it, and then focus on its plutonium production. It is set to get the bomb one way or another. The problem won’t be prevention, it will be containment. Read The King of the South to see what Iran will have in store for the Middle East and the broader international community once it gets its hands on a nuclear bomb, be it uranium or plutonium.