Saturday, August 26, 2006

Is This Iran's Big Surprise?

Iran has flipped the switch on a heavy water nuclear reactor that can produce plutonium.
On Saturday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, made a provocative, if symbolic, gesture by formally inaugurating a heavy-water plant. The plant, which Iranians say is intended for peaceful purposes, would also produce plutonium, which in turn could be used in the building of nuclear warheads.

"There are no talks of nuclear weapons in Iran," President Ahmadinejad said as he announced the opening of the plant. "And we are not a threat for any country, even the Zionist regime that is the enemy of the countries in the region."

But, he added: "We tell the Western countries not to cause trouble for themselves because Iranian people are determined to take big steps."

The action was the latest in a series of not-too-veiled threats against the West if Iran is saddled with sanctions.

But Iran's public posture has all but guaranteed that the members of the United Nation's Security Council will have to at least address Iran's violations of the resolution setting August 31 as the deadline for suspending enrichment.

Iranian's public confidence is based on three primary factors, political analysts here said: There is a strong belief that two of the council's permanent members, Russia and China, will support Iran's call for talks and oppose moving toward sanctions; that the United States is far too bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan to be willing to spark another conflict in the region; and the perceived victory of Hezbollah in its war with Israel has strengthened Iran's political capital in the region.

"After the defeat of Israel by Hezbollah forces, China and Russia should not want to leave the side that won the war, which is the Islamic world," said Hossein Shariatmadari, who is the editor of the conservative daily newspaper Kayhan.
Well, perceptions trump reality, as folks in the Middle East are all too willing to accept Hizbullah beat Israel, which gives Iran a freer hand to do as it likes knowing all too well that superpower envy by China and Russia will keep the UN on the sidelines or produce ineffectual resolutions that do nothing to stop Iran's nuclear intentions.

Israel knows what this means, as Ahmadinejad has repeatedly called for the annihilation of the state of Israel. Obtaining nuclear weapons would speed that goal considerably. The process by which Iran seeks to obtain nuclear weapons is a dual use system - a heavy water plant can produce not only electricity and isotopes for civilian use, but the materials crucial for nuclear weapons. It is the latter issue that should concern everyone.

Rick Moran takes the UN to task for putting process ahead of results, especially when the results can be so deadly.

Ed Morrissey also notes the parallel processes that Iran is undertaking to make sure that the Iranian program covers all the bases. Iran is figuring that if one facet of the program suffers a setback, it could still proceed with its nuclear program using alternative methods. The heavy water reactors help guarantee that success.

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