Saturday, March 25, 2006

Iran's 164-Centrifuge "Cascade"

Our regular coverage of the anti-Iran info-op takes us today in the direction of a purported technological breakthrough that is allegedly near at hand by Iran in their efforts at uranium enrichment.

The U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, last week briefed diplomats from Britain, France, the United States, China, Russia and Germany, at the request of all six countries, on the progress Iran has made in assembling a 164-centrifuge "cascade" for uranium enrichment. Such a cascade would be far too small to produce enough weapons-grade fuel for a bomb, experts said. But U.S. and British officials expressed concern that it showed Tehran was mastering the enrichment technology as it works toward building an industrial-scale nuclear enrichment program that would run thousands of centrifuges with the capacity to produce fuel for weapons...

Getting multiple centrifuges to operate together in arrays known as cascades is one of the most daunting engineering challenges in the process of developing enriched uranium. Until now, Iran has been trying to get about 20 centrifuges to work in a cascade. The attempt to try 164 suggests that the Iranians have succeeded at the lower number, but IAEA officials cautioned in the briefing that Iran still faces many technical hurdles in operating a larger cascade, according to U.S. and European officials.

Britain's ambassador to the United Nations, Emyr Jones Parry, said he is "very concerned" that the latest Iranian advance will provide Iran with the technological expertise needed to enrich uranium on a much larger scale. "If you can do 164, you can probably do many more" centrifuges, Jones Parry said. "That means you have the potential to do full-scale enrichment."

A senior U.S. official said that the Bush administration expressed similar concerns. "The reports that Iran is speeding up its enrichment program at Natanz is alarming to all of us, not just to the United States," the official said.

Is everyone scared enough yet to support a bombing campaign?


Then keep reading these reports as we file them. They will find something to convince you. The info-op is building toward a crescendo.


Blogger DrewL said...

In much of this, it seems that the IAEA is appearing complicit with U.S. aims in its reports of what the Iranians are doing. Yet, I seem to recall from several weeks ago that the IAEA's intel on Iran was coming from...the U.S. If that is, indeed, the case, then they are hardly acting as an independent, third party arbiter in all of this. In fact, they would appear to be parrots - or puppets - of the U.S.

I also recall that the IAEA was less on board with the Iraq/WMD push. They seemed less inclined to believe that Saddam was engaged in uranium enrichment and other nefarious activities.

What's your take on this?

3/26/2006 1:03 AM  
Blogger Effwit said...


The IAEA gets intelligence from many sources, depending on who has the best stuff.

If their info on Iran is coming from the U.S., everyone is effed. I say so because the vast majority (all) of U.S. intelligence on Iran comes not from well-placed (recruited by CIA) agents working in the Iranian government, but from Iranian exiles in Los Angeles and their alleged "sources" in coffeeshops in Teheran or Paris.

The Europeans often take the lead for the IAEA. They usually have the HUMINT. The U.S. brings nuclear technological experts to try to argue in favor of whatever policy objectives we are favoring that day. You know the old saying "you can prove anything with statistics"? Well, thats often the U.S. contribution to the supposedly dispassionate fact-gathering efforts of the IAEA.

I have no inside information on this particular dispute. But as reported (may be suspect info), the divisions are between those who favor the IAEA versus those who want the UN Security Council to take the lead against the Iranians.

The Iranians are most probably working on a bomb. But they even if they get nukes, they can be deterred.

3/26/2006 11:14 AM  

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