Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Break Out

The Iranians are getting closer to being able to make their own atomic bomb material:

Iranian and Russian engineers carried out a test-run of Iran's first nuclear power plant Wednesday, a major step toward starting up a facility that the U.S. once hoped to prevent because of fears over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

Washington worried Iran would turn spent fuel from the plant's reactor into plutonium, which could then be used to build a nuclear warhead, and U.S. officials pressured Moscow for years to stop helping Iran build the electricity-generating facility.


Iranian officials on Wednesday claimed further progress in expanding the uranium enrichment program, saying the number of centrifuges operating at its enrichment plant has increased to 6,000, up from 5,000 in November.

So Iran has a couple routes to bomb-making materials coming on line.

The problem from Iran's point of view is that they can't know if crossing one of these lines could trigger an American or Israeli preemptive strike out of fear that further delay in attacking would be too late to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. And if I was an Iranian nutball, I wouldn't assume the Americans and Israelis couldn't knock out my infrastructure.

Were I an Iranian nutball, under those circumstances, I'd want at least a few atomic warhead on hand before I announce capabilities to produce atomic weapons-grade material. Which would mean I'd have had to have bought some from either North Korea or Pakistan--or possibly even from some broke custodian of Russia's arsenal.

If Iran can announce both the ability to make nuclear bomb material and the possession of actual nuclear weapons--perhaps by detonating one in a test on their own territory--Tehran would quite possibly deter an attack on Iran's nuclear infrastructure.

We're not dealing with idiots. If the Iranian mullahs believe there are red lines that trigger Israeli or American action, why wouldn't they take counter-actions rather than just blindly cross those lines and provide a pretext for military action against them?

Have a nice day.