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News | Did Iran Model Nuclear Blast? Netanyahu: No Red Light for Israel

by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI

11 Sep 2012 22:20Comments

Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Farsi and Arabic press and excerpts where the source is in English. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. Any views expressed are the authors' own. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the stories in perspective. You can follow breaking news stories on our Twitter feed.

NuclearFacilityTwoKs.jpg10:20 p.m. IRDT, 21 Shahrivar/September 11 George Jahn of the Associated Press reports that diplomats have told him,
The United Nations [International] Atomic [Energy] Agency [IAEA] has received new and significant intelligence over the past month that Iran has moved further toward the ability to build a nuclear weapon. They say the intelligence shows that Iran has advanced its work on calculating the destructive power of an atomic warhead through a series of computer models that it ran sometime within the past three years. The diplomats say the information comes from Israel, the United States and at least two other Western countries and concludes that the work was done sometime within the past three years.

If this new information was indeed received "over the past month," the question is why the IAEA did not refer to it in its latest report on Iran's nuclear program that was released at the end of August, particularly given the fact that the report did include a letter that Iran submitted to the agency on August 30.

The Associated Press story does not explain how the information was obtained by the anonymous sources, nor does it consider the question of why Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama have made no public mention of it. In particular, given that Netanyahu has been threatening Iran with a military strike and looking for evidence to support his argument that the Islamic Republic poses an existential threat to Israel, why has he not aggressively promoted the new information?

In an AP story published this past March concerning the Parchin military site, where Iran has been producing conventional ammunition and explosives for decades, Jahn reported, "Satellite images of an Iranian military facility appear to show trucks and earth-moving vehicles at the site, indicating an attempted cleanup of radioactive traces possibly left by tests of a nuclear-weapon trigger." Aside from the fact that such radioactive traces cannot be removed, the notion that the images suggested the presence of radioactive materials in the first place appears to have been entirely speculative.

In May, Jahn reported that "a drawing based on information from inside an Iranian military site shows an explosives' containment chamber of the type needed for nuclear arms-related tests that U.N. inspectors suspect Tehran has conducted there.... The computer-generated drawing was provided to The Associated Press by an official of a country tracking Iran's nuclear program who said it proves the structure exists." This report was discredited by independent analysts, such as Gareth Porter. See here for Jim White's discussion of what may actually have happened at Parchin.

Netanyahu: No "moral right" to "red light" Israel

Prime Minister Netanyahu, meanwhile, took the Obama administration to task in unusually stern -- if implicit -- terms for its refusal to insist that Iran cease uranium enrichment by a date certain. The Haaretz daily reported that Netanyahu told reporters on Tuesday,

The world tells Israel, "Wait, there's still time." And I say, "Wait for what? Wait until when?" Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don't have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.

Now if Iran knows that there is no red line, if Iran knows that there is no deadline, what will it do? Exactly what it's doing. It's continuing, without any interference, towards obtaining nuclear weapons capability and from there, nuclear bombs.

Though Netanyahu referred to "international community," it is clear, according to Haaretz, that he meant the United States.

In an interview on Sunday with Bloomberg Radio after she attended an Asia-Pacific forum in Russia, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was asked if the United States would set clear "red lines" for Iran, or state explicitly the consequences of a failure to negotiate a deal with world powers by a certain date. "We're not setting deadlines," she replied. "We're watching very carefully about what they do, because it's always been more about their actions than their words."

Clinton also explained that there is a difference in the U.S. and Israeli perspectives on the time horizon for talks. Referring to the Netanyahu administration, she said, "They are more anxious about a quick response because they feel that they're right in the bull's-eye, so to speak. But we're convinced that we have more time to focus on these sanctions, to do everything we can to bring Iran to a good-faith negotiation."

The following day, in Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that it is "not useful" to set deadlines or red lines, because President Obama has already declared that Iran will not be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon.

Panetta: Iran would need a year to make nuclear weapon

On Sunday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in an appearance on CBS This Morning that if Iran were to decide to make a nuclear weapon, the United States would have approximately a year to intervene and prevent it.

"It's roughly about a year right now. A little more than a year," he said. "We think we will have the opportunity once we know that they've made that decision to take the action necessary to stop [Iran]." He added, "The United States has pretty good intelligence. We know generally what they're up to. And so we keep a close track on them.... We have the forces in place to be able to not only defend ourselves, but to do what we have to do to try to stop them from developing nuclear weapons."

Copyright © 2012 Tehran Bureau

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