By DAN W. MCCARN
I worked for years (1980-1988) at the IAEA in Vienna and a total of 15+ years overseas in, guess what? Uranium resources, exploration, development & mining as well as other focus areas in the Nuclear Fuel Cycle including nuclear waste management and decommissioning.
To place this in context, it has been 35 years since I first sat down at a table with an Iranian counterpart.
I’m quite familiar with the nuclear capabilities of most countries in that area including Iran. Every president except Obama since the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979 has been badly misguided because you do not cut off communications with an enemy or potential enemy because it drives them deeper into a certain desperation that results in the worst outcome.
Are you not familiar with the street riots against the mullahs in Teheran during the last election? The Iranians are ready to negotiate; their people want to reintegrate into the world society. So why tell ’em “Stuff it!”? Had we done that with the Former Soviet Union, I think most of the world would be a cinder by now.
Read the NPT. First, Iran has the right under the NPT to develop capabilities in the nuclear fuel cycle including mining, UF6 conversion, enrichment, fuel fabrication, operating a reactor, spent-fuel storage, and disposal.
All of these activities are required to be under IAEA Safeguards. Also note that power reactor fuel, despite some other comments to the contrary, cannot be processed to make a plutonium weapon because of the isotopic “lack of purity” of discharged reactor fuel.
It takes a very special type of reactor to produce weapons-grade plutonium. All enrichment activities must remain “Low-Enriched Uranium” or LEU.
Current stockpiles can be easily down blended to produce power reactor fuel or shipped overseas. In this case, the agreement reached is pretty invasive for inspections.
If at any point in time we see that the Iranians are not acting true to their agreement, we have a full range of responses that we can take including direct military action.
But more than that, the reason that we know so much about the attempted weapons program is that Iranians have leaked massive amounts of information to the west. For that, I’m thankful and proud that those courageous individuals are ready to give their lives to prevent a nuclear and national disaster.
Who do you think deployed the computer viruses that delayed the weapons program? It was Iranians.
The time of the revolution is over and the mullahs will soon go the way of the McCarthy-types of the Red Scare in the ’50s. The moderates are winning back the country. I just hope that the USA and the other western powers have the courage to assist that change to a more secular Iran.
But, If Netanyahu and the Republicans in Congress have their way we are going to be at war with yet another country, with which we share a great deal in common – fighting an even worse group in ISIS. I’ve already had family displaced due to ISIS in Iraq, and they’ve lost everything, again.
One more thing: Some compare North Korea with Iran. In the 35 years since I began work at the IAEA, I’ve met scores of Iranian nuclear scientists, most quite willing to discuss their programs. How many North Koreans have I met? Zero, zip, nada, none.
Comparing Iran to North Korea is comparing apples to oranges. We have an opportunity here. This agreement can be enforced by the IAEA. I have the advantage since I read the language of the NPT and Safeguards fluently.
But since you will hopefully read the NPT and then the Agreement, the more the USA and the West can become involved in the Iranian nuclear program (consulting, hardware, software, safety, safeguards, personnel, etc.) the more verifiable the agreement becomes.