Iranian nuclear weapons program advances


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad tours an Iranian centrifuge facility.

This morning The Times of London ran a lead story reporting that Iran is engaged in testing a key final component of a nuclear bomb. According to “confidential intelligence documents” obtained by The Times, the Islamic Republic is completing work on a uranium deuteride (UD3) initiator-the component of a nuclear weapon that triggers the explosion. From the story:

“Although Iran might claim that this work is for civil purposes, there is no civil application,” said David Albright, a physicist and president of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, which has analysed hundreds of pages of documents related to the Iranian programme. “This is a very strong indicator of weapons work.”

While the validity of these documents is hard to confirm, they do add to the mounting pile of evidence suggesting that the Iranians are seeking to develop nuclear weapons behind the veil of a civilian nuclear program.

Why the US National Intelligence Estimate in 2007 did not corroborate these findings is unclear. This report stated with “moderate confidence” that the Iranians ceased work on a weapons program in 2003 and that such work had not been resumed. Many in the policy community believed, however, that this document took a more cautious tone because of the fallout caused by similar reports on an Iraqi nuclear weapons program in the run-up to the current Iraq war.

The discrepancies between US intelligence and that of our British, German, and French counterparts are disturbing. What is needed now more than ever is constructive intelligence-sharing between the United States and the European Union, including a joint strategic framework for countering Iranian attempts to extend its military primacy. In order to ensure peace and stability, the West will need to present a united political, economic, and military approach to the program of Iranian proliferation.

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