First please watch this Iranian parade (check out the swastikas, Star of David, and "US" formations.) I think Bush and Cheney ought to switch places for awhile. In response to Cheney, Iran vows retaliation if attacked: ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates - The Iranian president said yesterday that Iran would retaliate if the United States attacked the country - a tough response to recent comments by Vice President Cheney that Washington would prevent the Islamic republic from dominating the Middle East. (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
Iran 'steps up nuclear work'BBC News
Iran is enriching uranium on a much larger scale than before, the UN's nuclear energy agency says.
UN inspectors say Iran closer on nuclear effort
VIENNA -- Inspectors for the International Atomic Energy Agency have concluded that Iran appears to have solved most of its technological problems and is beginning to enrich uranium on a far larger scale than before, according to the agency's top officials.
The New York Times picks up on the story today with word that Iran now has 1,300 centrifuges enriching uranium gas to low levels of enrichment -- suitable for power reactors -- and is testing an additional 300, with another 300 centrifuges still under installation. Iran’s goal is to begin operating 3,000 centrifuges by June, an objective that appears within reach according to officials at the International Atomic Energy Agency which monitors Iran’s efforts. (At left, centrifuges at Natanz.)
Iran’s program is allowed under the NPT, which permits access to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, but is currently in direct violation of three UN Security Council resolutions that have highlighted Iran’s violations of its safeguards obligations and demanded that Iran suspend especially the enrichment component of its nuclear program.
Two aspects of Iran’s enrichment program are especially troubling to policymakers and experts. One is that if Iran were to operate successfully about 3,000 centrifuges for a year, stockpiling the resulting low-enriched uranium (LEU), it would have a “breakout” capability of several months if it were to withdraw from the NPT, expel IAEA inspectors, and use its stockpiled LEU as feed in its centrifuges (starting enrichment with LEU shortens dramatically -- as much as 75 percent -- the time needed to enrich weapons-grade uranium). That’s a lot of “ifs,” but these are worst case scenarios that most concern diplomats.
The second is that Iran, at least for the moment, appears unshakable in its determination to brush off sanctions, and move doggedly forward with further installation of centrifuges and enrichment. This may force a rethinking of diplomatic strategy, as suggested by the Times, which until now has focused on the requirement that Iran suspend enrichment.