The neo-crazies – in and out of government – lied
to you last year about Iraq's "nuclear programs," and this year they're
lying to you about Iran's.
What constitutes lying? Well, either making an untrue statement with intent
to deceive, or deliberately creating a false impression.
The neo-crazies told you right up till the eve of President Bush's "preemptive
strike" that Iraq had reconstituted – deep underground and widely dispersed
– the uranium-enrichment facilities totally destroyed back in 1991. That was
an untrue statement, made with intent to deceive you.
They also told you that a uranium-enrichment capability was a necessary and
sufficient condition for Iraq to have nukes within a year or two. That was an
untrue statement, made to create a false impression.
You see, if you want to make a gun-type nuke, a uranium-enrichment capability
is certainly necessary. And, if you have two 60-pound sub-critical pieces of
weapons-grade enriched-uranium, all you have to do to make a gun-type nuke is
bang them together.
But if you want to make an enriched-uranium implosion-type nuke – which is
what Saddam was attempting to make – a uranium-enrichment capability is by no
Mohamed ElBaradei had reported to the UN Security that, as of March 2003, there
had been no attempt whatsoever to reconstitute Iraq's uranium-enrichment capability.
Furthermore, the CIA's Iraq Survey Group spent a billion dollars in the year
following the invasion, searching everywhere and interviewing all the "usual
Result? Not only was ElBaradei right about there being no reconstituted uranium-enrichment
capability, but there had also been no attempt since 1991 to design or test
the high-explosive system absolutely required for an implosion-type nuke.
Well, now the neo-crazies would have you believe that Iran has an underground,
widely dispersed uranium-enrichment capability. And that that uranium-enrichment
capability is a sufficient condition for Iran to have nukes in a year or two.
But while the neo-crazies have been making that claim, Iran has been allowing
ElBaradei to conduct in Iran the same sort of go-anywhere, see-anything inspection
he conducted in Iraq.
Result? ElBaradei has concluded that all nuclear material in Iran has been
accounted for and has not been diverted to activities prohibited by the Nuclear
Hence, there is no NPT issue for the IAEA Board to refer to the UN Security
Furthermore, ElBaradei has found no evidence that Iran has yet introduced nuclear
material into the uranium-enrichment facilities under construction.
That's important, because until nuclear material was actually introduced, Iran
was under no obligation to report to the IAEA the construction of the gas-centrifuge
plants at Natanz.
Obligated or not, Iran has placed "all essential components of centrifuges
as defined by the Agency" under IAEA seals, except for 20 sets of centrifuge
components to be used "for R&D purposes." Even then, Iran also
offered to provide the IAEA with access to that R&D program "if requested."
Well, the neo-crazies promptly went bonkers. They charged that this R&D
"exception" proved the Iranians had no intention of abiding by the
agreement they made with Germany, France, and Great Britain to "suspend"
all uranium-enrichment related activities and that this latest Iranian
perfidy had to be brought immediately before the UN Security Council for action.
But don't let those neo-crazy charges create a false impression.
You see, Iran also stated that the "AEOI [Atomic Energy Organization of Iran]
is not intending to use nuclear materials in any of the tests associated with
the said R&D."
Gas centrifuges are not used exclusively for uranium isotope separation. Cascades
of gas centrifuges are used to separate – in kilogram quantities for commercial
sale – the isotopes of zinc, tungsten, molybdenum, krypton, xenon, germanium,
iron, sulfur, oxygen, and carbon.
For example, large quantities of zinc-acetate-dihydrate are used as an additive
in water-cooled, water-moderated nuclear power plants – particularly those burning
plutonium-uranium mixed-oxide (MOX) fuels – to reduce corrosion and cracking
of key components. However, the use of naturally occurring zinc would result
in increased radiation exposure to plant workers, because Zn-64 – constituting
48% by isotopic concentration in naturally occurring zinc – is transformed into
radioactive Zn-65 in the reactor environment. Hence the lucrative market for
large quantities of "depleted" zinc-acetate-dihydrate wherein the
Zn-64 isotopic concentration is reduced to less than 1%.
So, until IAEA Safeguarded "nuclear materials" are actually introduced
into them, the origin of the centrifuges, the construction of cascades, and
the operation thereof is none of the IAEA's beeswax. And who knows? Maybe the
Iranians' secret plan all along has been to take over the depleted zinc market.