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23 November 2013

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MRW

"20 percent, a short hop to weapons-grade fuel"

No, it's not. Weapons grade is 90+%. And weapons-grade enriched uranium is not a fuel. Nuclear weapons require a metal. It's what makes them go boom.

"Iran Has a Nuclear Power, Not a Weapons Program" Interview with Clinton Bastin, US government U.S. Atomic Energy Commission expert on nuclear weapon design and processes.
http://www.21stcenturysciencetech.com/Articles_2011/Fall-2011/Nuclear

Bastin: ”Sure, Iran could divert a few tons of 3.5% or a ton of 20% enriched uranium hexaflouride gas for enrichment to 90+%. But what then? No one has ever made a nuclear weapon from gas.”

eakens

I'm more curious what Israel got out of this deal.

Eliot

For the weapons scholars, what prevents the Iranians from developing a weapons program? Does this meaningful constrict their ability to go nuclear?

LeaNder

JP

"JERUSALEM - Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's government denounced world powers' nuclear agreement with Iran on Sunday as a "bad deal" to which Israel would not be bound.

Yet Israeli officials stopped short of threatening unilateral military action that could further isolate the Jewish state and imperil its bedrock alliance with Washington, saying more time was needed to assess the agreement."

We will look at it later, but we already know now that it is a bad deal.

Phil Weiss has an interesting collection:
http://mondoweiss.net/2013/11/united-states-forward.html

confusedponderer

"No one has ever made a nuclear weapon from gas"

Trifles, trifles ... ^^

Trifles even more so since this is not about nukes but geostrategy and the US obsession with regime change.

I am amazed that the US have finally managed to get over themselves and started to talk with Iran. Six years ago that would have been unacceptable out of concerns that American Greatness might accidentally rub off on the Iranians, 'legitimising them' which presumably would turn them into human beings. So, three hoorays from me for the US finally have gotten themselves out of Kindergarten.

And, because t is needed, good luck with the talks - may the US desist from duplicity this time, like making the talks fail, and have it look like it's Iran's fault so the US looks good and Israel isn't so much of a hassle. That would IMO be something Kerry would like to do.

I don't trust Kerry, and it appears that Obama likewise doesn't since apparently the initial talks with Iran were done out of the White House and not the State Department.

I can't but point out that issues like Iran are always and inevitably a Gemengelage, in which there is a cause for everyone, resulting in the oddest coalitions. It is really an interesting and diverse picture to look at:

The neocons are divided. There is the wing comitted to bombing Iran asap, be it either to 'transform the Middle East' some more or to pursue Israel's interests as laid out in 'A clean break'. Then there are others who gained the insight that it is not going to result in regime change. For them, for lack of a better idea, sanctions must do. In that they are in agreement with their bomb happy brethren who see increased sanctions as an expedient way to heckle the talks.

The Christian Zionists are all for attacking Iran, simply out of the atavistic fear that if they aren't, then God, perhaps Thor, will smithe Houston or something like that. It's all Genesis 12:3 to them.

The neo-Wilsonians are also committed to regime change in Iran but are sceptical, but for fear of loss of face they happy with crippling sanctions. And they were pretty happy with active regime change in Syria.

Netanyahoo and his coalition of lunatics are comitted to destroying Iran because that would undermine Syria and ultimately Hezbollah, and would allow Israel a chance to finally, crush their enemies decisively, and finally establish an racially pure Greater Israel or something of the sort! The Endsieg, finally! The Israelis have been chasing that decisive victory for 30 years, but somehow it didn't work out. Maybe, just maybe, because there is a limit to what military power can achieve?

All their last decisive victory gained the Isralis was peace with Egypt, and the one before gave them control over land which they now illegally settle on. Occupying powers are not permitted to 'repossess' conquered territory'. War of conquest, for territorial expansion is simply illegal. Maybe someone should explain congress?

Either way, they didn't achieve safety through victory, although they have become pretty dominant militarily, and it must irk Bibi horribly that despite all that military strength they still can't dictate political outcomes. So, since changing policy is unacceptable, a game changer is needed, or perhaps a wonder weapon, like destroying Syria to weaken Iran to weaken Hezbollah - so that finally Israel will be victorious once more!

The Turks apparently don't so much worry about Iran as they are interested in furthering Muslim Brotherhood goals in Syria, and must be very disappointed to see that what's taking shape there is a Salafist opposition to the right of the Brotherhood, and on which they have little influence. They failed thoroughly in Egypt. Oopsie. A pity to see what happened to the sensible idea of 'zero problems with our neighbours'.

As I understand it, the Qataris also went all the way behind the Brotherhood in Syria, and like the Turks failed and were elbowed out by the Saudis. I'd be curious about changes in Qatari policy after that somewhat abrupt leadership succession there. Anyone knows more about that?

The Saudis find themselves in an odd coalition with the Israelis. They are pushing their Salafist proxies in Syria, who hate the Alawi and Shia heretics just a tad more than Jews, and prioritise consolidation over expansion. First Damascus, then Jerusalem.

The Israelis are crazy to support such allies in face of the near term consequences of boosting such people just behind the Golan, but as nutty as they are they don't care. Given the silly policy choices they made they have few other options, and heaven forbid they change course. Double down they will. Sheldon Adelson probably finds that such folks are his best customers.

The most ironic consequence of the Israeli-Saudi coalition is that, while the Israelis are rather close with the Kurds, the Salafist allies of their Saudi partners are fighting with Israel's Kurdish allies over Syria.

What a mess.

I think that US reconciliation with Iran would be THE game changer in the Middle East, and would very favourably influence the US situation in the region.

The beaver

"It was only after that Obama-Rouhani phone call that the U.S. began informing allies of the secret talks with Iran, the U.S. officials said.

Obama handled the most sensitive conversation himself, briefing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a Sept. 30 meeting at the White House. He informed Netanyahu only about the two summer meetings, not the March talks, in keeping with the White House's promise only to tell allies about any discussions with Iran that were substantive."

www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/24/iran-nuclear-deal_n_4332835.html

turcopolier

All

"Blessed are the peacemakers." If Israel wants war with Iran, let them go have one, but without the USA, and let there be no gratis replacement of equipment or ammunition. My compliments to the Obama Administration and Kerry. A big step towards finding a ladder with which to climb out of the hole that they are in. pl

turcopolier

All

We need for someone to find a definitive piece (or write one) on the facts regarding nuclear enrichment. pl

nick b

From world-nuclear.org:

Enriched uranium: Uranium in which the proportion of U-235 (to U-238) has been increased above the natural 0.7%. Reactor-grade uranium is usually enriched to about 3.5% U-235, weapons-grade uranium is more than 90% U-235.

nick b

Here's more from the same site http://www.world-nuclear.org/

http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Nuclear-Fuel-Cycle/Conversion-Enrichment-and-Fabrication/Uranium-Enrichment/

http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Nuclear-Fuel-Cycle/Introduction/Nuclear-Fuel-Cycle-Overview/

Allen Thomson


This may not be definitive, but isn't a bad place to start: http://lewis.armscontrolwonk.com/archive/2620

BTW, if I may be permitted a nit that probably isn't important in the present context, "weapon/bomb grade" is best understood as "of an isotopic composition considered optimum, though not strictly necessary, for use in a weapon." I.e., you can make a perfectly workable bomb with 80% enriched uranium, though the designers prefer 93.5% "weapons grade." Plutonium is similar in this respect.

Bill H

"20 percent, a short hop to weapons-grade fuel"

@MRW Right. And not only is it not, but the closer one gets to weapons grade, the harder it becomes to further enrich, so 20% to weapons grade is a very long leap indeed.

JohnH

If everyone recalls, Iran started enriching to 20% to supply the Tehran Research Reactor, used for medical purposes, because Obama decided to make foreign supply of the reactor into a political issue and embargo imports. Presumably, this initial deal contains a commitment to allow Iran to import the uranium it needs.

Let's hope that Obama learned that messing with the supply of uranium is a very bad idea. It encourages people to find their own solution, something that fundamentally undermines non-proliferation, as we have seen.

Charles I

indignation, a commodity always liberally spewed and in need of constant resupply.

Charles I

I couldn't help myself.

According to Debkafile, the new agreement only has seven loopholes favoring Iran whereas the draft agreement had nine loopholes.

A major closing of the loophole gap.

http://www.debka.com/

bonjour tout le monde

Corrected link address:

http://www.21stcenturysciencetech.com/Articles_2011/Fall-2011/Nuclear_Report.pdf

Babak Makkinejad

All:

http://books.sipri.org/files/books/SIPRI83Krass/SIPRI83Krass.pdf

Babak Makkinejad

I agree with your last paragraph but will not happen anytime soon.

Too much water has run under the proverbial bridge.

Babak Makkinejad

In case of Iran, the P5 tried to redefine NPT.

In case of Pakistan and India they also re-defined NPT.

In Iran they failed in their effort.

The result has been a sever damaging of NPT - perhaps NPT is not dead but P5 have gravely wounded it - I think.

The beaver

The agreement :
http://media.farsnews.com/media/Uploaded/Files/Documents/1392/09/03/13920903000147.pdf

William R. Cumming

"PEACE IN OUR TIME"! Doubtful IMO!

William R. Cumming

Is there a good open source document on USA formal treaty arrangements [meaning US Senate ratified] in MENA?

turcopolier

WRC

There are none. Turkey does not count. pl

turcopolier

WRC

"Only the dead have seen the end of war," but that does not mean that the US should participate. pl

confusedponderer

The NPT gives the inalienable right to enrich peacefully. That is crystal clear and couldn't be more explicit. The damage to that treaty is the inevitable consequence of trying to twist it into the opposite.

Much like the R2Pers approach to sovereignty, the P5 reinterpreted that right to mean '... if we say so'. They made a travesty of it.

The US and the UK have a tendency to instrumentalise international law for their own ends. They did it with the NPT just as they did that with inspections in Iraq (as long as they served their needs), and as they routinely do that with UNSC resolutions.

They likewise instrumentalised the Iraq sanctions which were meant to ensure disarmament into a vessel to effect regime change - it failed in that regard, and killed half a million people in the process, and the US and UK blocked with their veto any attempt to stop this. That was a murderous travesty also. Not that anybody but a few miffed UN people complained. As Madeleine Albright assured us - in the context of regime change 'it was worth it'.

Now Babak, before you now say that international law is worthless - it isn't. It is only as good and effective as the actors make it.

In these cases here we had in the US an eminently powerful nation acting in bad faith.

The problem is not the tool but the craftsman who uses it, and the ends he uses it for.

The US, in international law, are, judging by their record, not a reliable partner, far less an honest broker and often duplicitous.

Let's hope that changes. Obama has a narrow window of opportunity with Iran and I hope he understands that and uses the chance he has. If the talks don't bear fruit in the next year or so, a future administration may just revert to autopilot again.

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