Saturday, February 21, 2009

Can we ward off panic right now? - updated with new graphic

Juan Cole comments:
Iran cannot construct nuclear bombs with uranium enriched only to less than 4%. It needs to be enriched to something like 90% to make a bomb. So all the silly articles on Friday about how iran now has enough enriched uranium to make a bomb are just illiterate. Moreover, the report in question actually says that Iran is slowing its enrichment activities.


Now that the Likud is back in control of Israel, flanked by even less savory far-right forces, we will unfortunately be bombarded by inflammatory propaganda about how dangerous Iran is. Iran hasn't aggressively invaded another country in at least a century and a half. In contrast, the Likud never met a war of aggression they did not like.
[Emphasis mine]

Professor Cole is drawing on chemist Cheryl Rofer's article:
The concentration of U-235 is 3.49% in the enriched uranium that the Natanz plant is turning out. The IAEA has found no evidence (Download Iran 0902) that any higher enrichment is being produced. 3.49% is not enough to make a bomb. Iran is not in a position to make a bomb, unless there is a bunch of hidden stuff that nobody has found, involving big buildings that can be seen by satellite surveillance.

It would take a reconfiguration of the Natanz facility that the inspectors would notice to produce bomb-grade uranium (concentration of U-235 of 90%). The inspectors also take environmental samples to verify the concentration of U-235. They would have to be kicked out of the facility and their video cameras taken down for Iran to do this.

There are a number of other things in that IAEA report that the media aren't bothering to report, like that the pace of enrichment has slowed. That doesn't support the idea that Iran is racing toward a bomb, so it's not relevant, I guess.
So if you hear someone spouting twaddle, you are now armed with information to stop it.

--the BB

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