WELCOME TO THE FOLLIES – AT 8:58 A.M. ET: Preliminary negotiations with Iran, leading up to the main event, a negotiating session in Baghdad on May 23rd, begin today. Of course, new negotiations with Iran on its nuclear program seem to begin regularly, and always end the same way – with no results. This time the Western powers hope that severe sanctions will change the mullahs' minds. I doubt it.
(Reuters) - The U.N. nuclear watchdog signaled on Monday it would press Iran for access to a military facility where it suspects the Islamic state has built a chamber for high-explosive tests that could serve a bid to develop nuclear weapons.
Iran, which rejects Western accusations it seeks atomic arms, has so far resisted requests by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to visit the extensive Parchin complex southeast of Tehran. The issue was expected to be raised during a high-level May 14-15 Vienna meeting between Iran and the IAEA.
An IAEA report last November found Iran had built a large containment vessel in 2000 at the site in which to conduct high-explosive tests that the U.N. agency said were "strong indicators of possible (nuclear) weapon development".
"A building was constructed at that time around a large cylindrical object ... A large earth berm was subsequently constructed between the building containing the cylinder and a neighboring building, indicating the probable use of high explosives in the chamber."
The IAEA said it had obtained satellite images that were consistent with this information. The vessel was designed to contain the detonation of up to 70 kg of high explosives.
Western diplomats say they suspect Iran may be cleaning the location to remove incriminating evidence before inspectors can go there. A U.S. security institute said last week satellite imagery showed activity there which it said raised concern that Iran may be "washing" the building the IAEA wants to see.
COMMENT: I think it's a pipe dream to believe that Iran, already led by a fanatical government, will give up its nuclear dreams because of current pressure. It will probably stall for time, make as much progress as possible, and continue to shift work to secret hardened locations, some dug into mountains.
Some say that it doesn't matter, that the Iranians can be "deterred" from using nuclear weapons, as were the old Soviets. But Tehran is not Moscow. The Soviet leaders, despite their brutality, were also rational strategists who didn't think it was neat to die for the deity. I'm not so sure about the theocratic mullahs of Iran. I wouldn't trust them with the bomb. There are risks we just cannot take, especially when they involve weapons that can inflict massive casualties with one blast.
May 14, 2012