AND AGAIN – AT 7:56 A.M. ET: Each day we follow the Iran story, which can erupt at any time into a full-blown military crisis. And we constantly see progress in the Iranian nuclear program, with no corresponding progress in diplomatic attempts to curtail it. Today's story is particularly dramatic, and alarming. From London's Telegraph:
The Telegraph can disclose details of activity at a heavily-guarded Iranian facility from which international inspectors have been barred for 18 months.
The images, taken earlier this month, show that Iran has activated the Arak heavy-water production plant.
Heavy water is needed to operate a nuclear reactor that can produce plutonium, which could then be used to make a bomb.
The images show signs of activity at the Arak plant, including a cloud of steam that indicates heavy-water production.
Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency have been unable to visit the facility since August 2011 and Iran has refused repeated requests for information about the site, which is 150 miles south-west of the capital, Tehran.
Western governments and the IAEA have held information about activity at Arak for some time.
But today’s exclusive images are the first to put evidence of that activity into the public domain.
The details of Iran’s plutonium programme emerged as the world’s leading nations resumed talks with Tehran aimed at allaying fears over the country’s nuclear ambitions.
The new images also show details of the Fordow complex, which is concealed hundreds of feet beneath a mountain near the holy city of Qom. At talks in Kazakhstan yesterday, world leaders offered to relax sanctions on Iran in exchange for concessions over Fordow, which is heavily protected from aerial attack.
COMMENT: There is some speculation that British Prime Minister David Cameron was instrumental in leaking this information. The theory goes that he is displeased by the lack of urgency shown by the United States over Iran, and wanted to apply some heat. I stress that this is speculation, but it makes sense. Countries that depend on the United States to lead the alliance cannot be anything but appalled at the direction Obama's second term is taking. John Kerry, Chuck Hagel, a president who refuses to lead, a first lady who seems to have gone into the entertainment business, and a deadlocked Congress. Leader of the free world?
At the same time, a new round of negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program has just ended, with no apparent progress. Other talks will be scheduled. I'm sure.
February 27, 2013