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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Iran paints a bullseye on its uranium supply

The New York Times' David Sanger has picked up on a line in the IAEA report that came as as surprise: Iran has moved its entire known supply of low-enriched uranium to an above-ground outdoor facility. It's practically painted a bullseye on it, begging to be attacked. Why did they do it? Here's Sanger.
The strangest of the speculations — but the one that is being talked about most — is that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps is inviting an attack to unify the country after eight months of street demonstrations that have pitted millions of Iranians against their government. As one senior European diplomat noted Thursday, an Israeli military strike might be the “best thing” for Iran’s leadership, because it would bring Iranians together against a national enemy.

...

Others, including some officials in the White House, say they do not buy that theory. Iran has worked too hard to let its supply be destroyed, they argue. “I really doubt they are taunting the Israelis to hit them,” said Kenneth Pollack, a scholar at the Brookings Institution who recently ran a daylong simulation of what would happen after an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. “It would be humiliating for the Iranian regime,” he said. He speculated that Iran would have to retaliate, and “the ensuing confrontation would go in directions no one can really predict.”

Mr. Pollack numbers among those who suspect another explanation: brinkmanship. The Iranians have made clear that they do not like the terms their own negotiators came home with for swapping their nuclear fuel for specialized fuel for the medical reactor. By moving their fuel supply to the enrichment plant, they are essentially threatening to turn it all to near-bomb-grade fuel — and perhaps force the United States to reopen negotiations.

But the simplest explanation, that the Iranians had no choice, has its proponents. The fuel is stored in one big, specialized cask. When someone ordered that the fuel begin being fed into the giant centrifuges for further enrichment, engineers moved it to the only spot available — the exposed plant. Or, as one American intelligence official said, “You can’t dismiss the possibility that this is a screw-up.”
Laura Rozen and Yossi Melman seem equally as puzzled as Sanger.

I think it's brinksmanship. I believe Iran has more fuel underground and that it is seeking to get a better enrichment deal from the West or to provoke an attack. But I don't believe they'd expose their entire stockpile like that. I'd love to see that thing sabotaged in a way that could not be traced.

Now, I'm starting to wonder what happened to those two alleged Mabhouh assassins who went to Iran. We Jews have a rule that an angel only carries out one mission at a time. Does that rule apply to Mossad agents? Hmmm.

Read the whole thing.

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