Good news: Iranian centrifuge breakthrough will speed progress towards bomb

posted at 7:18 pm on February 8, 2008 by Allahpundit

Somehow the big news today isn’t this teeth-gnasher but Mike McConnell telling Congress that they coulda/shoulda done a better job of writing the NIE to stress that Iran is still on track to build a bomb. The weaponization program was indeed suspended in 2003, notes McConnell, but the enrichment process, which needs to be mastered before the material can be weaponized, continues apace. See-Dub flags his testimony here. Except … all of that was noted by the media when the NIE came out, including even on the NYT editorial page. December 5th:

[T]here’s also a lot of worrisome news in there that must not be overlooked.

First, the report says “with high confidence” that Iran did have a secret nuclear weapons program and that it stopped only after it got caught and was threatened with international punishment. Even now, Tehran’s scientists are working to master the skills to make nuclear fuel — the hardest part of building a weapon.

See also the quote from WaPo in my post on the same day. The feds could have done a better job spoonfeeding the information to the public (what else is new?) but it’s out there and the media didn’t ignore it.

Now, let’s make sure this isn’t ignored either. You want flaws in the NIE? You got it:

Iran has begun to deploy a new generation of machinery to produce nuclear fuel, a development bound to intensify a debate in Washington about whether a recent National Intelligence Estimate accurately portrayed Tehran’s progress toward the ability to build a nuclear weapon…

Experts said Iran’s design for the IR-2 centrifuge showed considerable technical creativity.

In an interview, a senior European nuclear official who monitors the Iranian program said the IR-2 was “more ingenious” than its predecessor, an unreliable machine called the P-1, with the “P” reflecting its Pakistani origins. The official insisted on anonymity because of the political delicacy of the issue.

A report released Thursday by the Institute for Science and International Security, a private group in Washington that tracks nuclear proliferation, said the Iranian-made machine was designed to be efficient and reliable.

The report said that if Iran could build 1,200 centrifuges of the new design, it could produce enough weapons-grade uranium for a bomb in one year. Iran would need 3,000 of the current generation of machines to get the equivalent output. It has built that many, experts say, but has had difficulty keeping them running.

At the core of the new centrifuge design is a thin, tubelike rotor made of carbon fibers rather than maraging steel, a variety with great strength, the Institute’s report said. Iran has had difficulty making or buying strong maraging steel, largely because the West has stopped shipments headed to the country.

Like they say, the P1 is an old Pakistani model; Iran bought up a bunch of them on the nuclear black market, probably when A.Q. Khan was still in business. Because of that, there’s always been a question of how much they’re capable of building on their own versus how dependent they are on purchasing used equipment. Last year arms control wonk Jeffrey Lewis speculated that they couldn’t mass produce the maraging steel they need to build lots of centrifuges and thus were forced to make do with the steel they’ve been able to buy, enough (by his estimation) for 1,000-2,000 centrifuges. Problem solved: Now they have a centrifuge that doesn’t need it. And if they’re capable of improving the P1 to make it more than twice as efficient as it was, lord only knows what else they’ve figured out.

Ahmadinejad says his goal is 50,000 centrifuges within five years, which would make leave them able to process enough fuel for one bomb every few weeks. What’s the magic number now? 20,000? What’ll it be by the time President Obama takes office and starts working his hope/change fu on them?


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Doomsday, here we come!

madmonkphotog on February 8, 2008 at 7:19 PM

Yes. Such good news. Has anyone told the State Department yet?

petefrt on February 8, 2008 at 7:22 PM

Yep, the End Times are here. I`m starting to think that whole Mayan calander ending suddenly in 2012 has some meaning to it.

So I guess this means Mitt won`t be running then?

ThePrez on February 8, 2008 at 7:22 PM

NIE Report, ho!

profitsbeard on February 8, 2008 at 7:22 PM

“I continue to worry about their ambitions, which are as old as history – a Persian domination of the region,’’ Mr. McCain said at a panel discussion on security in a cruise terminal next to a Naval museum on the waterfront here.

http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/02/08/mccains-security-panel/

bnelson44 on February 8, 2008 at 7:24 PM

Momma always said stupid is as stupid does.

The NIE report proves just that.

It would be funny if it weren’t so deadly serious.

SimplyKimberly on February 8, 2008 at 7:24 PM

Now, the folks who put McCain as our nominee aren’t looking
so dumb now are we? Mitt would be so out of his element, and his cash wouldn’t be of help for the first time in his life.

THE CHOSEN ONE on February 8, 2008 at 7:25 PM

No need forMitt bashing he wont be the Nominee and even I came around to believe that Mitt would fight terrorism wholeheartedly.

But this is a warning to anyone saying they would sit out and welcome an Obama Presidency.

William Amos on February 8, 2008 at 7:26 PM

AAAHHHH! As Buchanan said:

“We are an unserious people in a serious time.”

But who would be best to protect us during this time? Hillary, in an attempt to prove her toughness, would probably go after Iran as soon as, if not before, McCain.

McCain, on the other hand, in an attempt to “reach across the aisle” might put off action until it’s too late and mutually assured destruction is the only option. Then again, he might get pissed off and just give them the old “F— you!”

Obama? Hmmm. I bet he’d have some inspiring speeches to give about the situation.

We’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, folks.

NTWR on February 8, 2008 at 7:28 PM

But who would be best to protect us during this time? Hillary, in an attempt to prove her toughness, would probably go after Iran as soon as, if not before, McCain.

Didnt Hillary vote for a Bill warning Bush that he could be impeached if he didnt come to congress for a DOW ?

William Amos on February 8, 2008 at 7:29 PM

William Amos on February 8, 2008 at 7:26 PM

Yes, but if she’s holding the reigns it’s hard to say what she’d do. At least for me. That’s why I’m asking!

NTWR on February 8, 2008 at 7:31 PM

“Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran…”

CP on February 8, 2008 at 7:33 PM

The enemy is at the gates.

infidel on February 8, 2008 at 7:36 PM

The enemy is at the gates.

infidel on February 8, 2008 at 7:36 PM

And hillary is the crypt gate keeper

William Amos on February 8, 2008 at 7:37 PM

I can’t help but wonder what happens if/when there is an earthquake with all those rather delicate centrifuges spinning. Do they fly apart?

crosspatch on February 8, 2008 at 7:40 PM

McCain will do nothing. He’ll play foots y like we are doing now. I’ll believe a President will be tough when I see w whole int he middle of the mountains of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Until then talk is cheap and BS runs the marathon.

TOPV on February 8, 2008 at 7:41 PM

Hey, at least Israel still sorta has balls!

Hopefully they’ll do something.

NTWR on February 8, 2008 at 7:43 PM

That’s okay, we’ll let the liberals run everything because McCain is not a 100% true blue conservative.

We’ll let them mess up everything – let Iran get a nuke, abandon Iraq, screw up the economy, impose socialized health care, rescind the Bush tax cuts – and then we can go in and fix everything.

Yeah, right.

Brilliant strategy. Simply brilliant.

SteveMG on February 8, 2008 at 7:46 PM

How’s Mav’s “temper” looking now? Blink Iran, just blink.

THE CHOSEN ONE on February 8, 2008 at 7:46 PM

Since Israel will be the first target, my bet is this gets taken care of before we get involved. The US job will be to stand behind Israel once its done.

God Help Us!!

PappaMac on February 8, 2008 at 7:48 PM

when I see w whole int he middle of the mountains of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

I certainly hope that someone with this view indeed stays at home in November.

SteveMG on February 8, 2008 at 7:51 PM

We’ll let them mess up everything – let Iran get a nuke, abandon Iraq, screw up the economy, impose socialized health care, rescind the Bush tax cuts – and then we can go in and fix everything.

Yeah, right.

Brilliant strategy. Simply brilliant.

SteveMG on February 8, 2008 at 7:46 PM

None of the social issues matter if we’re hit with multiple nukes. That’s why Jericho is such a fun show to watch.

No way in hell do I want Hillary or socialized anything. I want our nation relatively secure. This becomes an all or nothing game and it’s important to look at the options in that context.

NTWR on February 8, 2008 at 7:56 PM

It’s not happening fast enough. Let’s all vote for Barack Obama so our next President will just give Iran a dozen nukes as a goodwill gesture. /sarc

indythinker on February 8, 2008 at 7:59 PM

Now, the folks who put McCain as our nominee aren’t looking
so dumb now are we? Mitt would be so out of his element, and his cash wouldn’t be of help for the first time in his life.

THE CHOSEN ONE on February 8, 2008 at 7:25 PM

I’m not sure that wrecking 5 aircraft translates to Commander in Chief credentials, but I guess we’ll find out, unless of course, the Dems put up a candidate. Perhaps you can tell us. What, specifically, is McCain’s plan for Iran? I see you think his temper gives him an advantage.

a capella on February 8, 2008 at 8:02 PM

I’m not sure that wrecking 5 aircraft translates to Commander in Chief credentials,

Geezus, what a incredibly small comment.

I didn’t know they made a font that small.

SteveMG on February 8, 2008 at 8:04 PM

John McCain we need you now!

Pax americana on February 8, 2008 at 8:06 PM

*sings*
It’s the end of the world as we know it….

Capitana on February 8, 2008 at 8:06 PM

Just a question for all the McCain fans on this thread, and it is just a question, so don’t go calling me deranged. Admittedly, McCain would more than likely handle the situation with Iran in a fashion that would place America’s interests first; but the institutional elements in the intelligence communities, the pentagon, and the State Department, who have been – oh what’s the phrase- less than helpful for the Bush administration will still be there when McCain takes office. How do you think President McCain will deal with those elements so that we can actually deal with Iran once and for all? Will those institutions be more amiable to a McCain administration? And what would be your reasoning for assuming they would?

Weight of Glory on February 8, 2008 at 8:19 PM

What makes anyone think McCain would do anything to stop Irans’ bomb building? Dinner Jacket and his killers are going to build nuclear weapons and use them. Then they will be destroyed by Israel with great loss of life on both sides. Of course, he could be assassinated and a deal struck, but the next guy would be just as bad. Although, in the deal they would probably take billions of dollars to delay the action, but you never know, do you. Should make for great TV.

countywolf on February 8, 2008 at 8:27 PM

Am I being paranoid or does anyone else think that some of the posters here on the McCain discussion are provocateurs?

For some bizarre reason, there are folks on the Left who enjoy pretending to be conservatives in order to disrupt things.

Strange hobby, to be sure.

SteveMG on February 8, 2008 at 8:30 PM

SteveMG on February 8, 2008 at 8:30 PM

Steve, everyone’s “guy” has gotten it just as bad, if not worse, in some of these thread.

Weight of Glory on February 8, 2008 at 8:44 PM

Am I being paranoid or does anyone else think that some of the posters here on the McCain discussion are provocateurs?

For some bizarre reason, there are folks on the Left who enjoy pretending to be conservatives in order to disrupt things.

Strange hobby, to be sure.

SteveMG on February 8, 2008 at 8:30 PM

Why don’t you name them?

a capella on February 8, 2008 at 8:45 PM

Wait. Our Intelligence community was … wrong?

Big Daddy Cool on February 8, 2008 at 8:46 PM

Steve, everyone’s “guy” has gotten it just as bad, if not worse, in some of these thread.

Sure. I’m not saying that only McCain’s been at the receiving end of the fire. There’s been a ‘bit of a circular firing squad going on lately.

I’m saying that there are posts from people who seem to be more desirous of stirring the pudding (so to speak) between the various cliques.

SteveMG on February 8, 2008 at 8:59 PM

Why don’t you name them?

No conservative that I know of would characterize McCain’s military history as simply being “wrecking 5 aircraft”.

Everyone knows the history of his military accomplishments.

To dismiss them so cavalierly is indicative of someone either being very provocative or very callous.

SteveMG on February 8, 2008 at 9:04 PM

I think AP has a knack for finding the worst news in the world to share with us.

TX Mom on February 8, 2008 at 9:09 PM

Alright then…JOHN MCCAIN IT IS.

There, I said it.

But good grief…MITT IN 2012, if we all live that long.

NickTx on February 8, 2008 at 9:09 PM

I’m saying that there are posts from people who seem to be more desirous of stirring the pudding (so to speak) between the various cliques.

SteveMG on February 8, 2008 at 8:59 PM

Pudding? Now, you’re talking my language!

Weight of Glory on February 8, 2008 at 9:11 PM

Pudding? Now, you’re talking my language!

Butterscotch.

SteveMG on February 8, 2008 at 9:14 PM

Pudding? Now, you’re talking my language!
Butterscotch.

SteveMG on February 8, 2008 at 9:14 PM

Butterscotch pudding? That sounds about as good as some FRED right about now!

NickTx on February 8, 2008 at 9:15 PM

McCain vs. State/CIA. I am no fan of John McCain. But he likes to fight. He picks fights where none need occur. Mostly on the conservative side as those of us who are conservative can attest.

But he HAS picked fights with the Liberal and CIA/State side. The Iraq surge and victory there. He picked a BIG fight with the “Baker Consensus” and backed the surge to the hilt. He desperately wants a “Win” as a Vietnam Vet, and that plays well to his natural constituency of the “Mavericks.”

Unlike GWB, McCain would likely ENJOY picking fights with CIA and State and make people PAY. Picking fights with his captors in Hanoi got him through torture and imprisonment, and it’s a habit he’s continued ever since.

McCain in one sense to use a phrase from somewhere else about someone else (Batman) “lives for revenge” and would love to take it on anyone who crossed him at State or CIA. The first leak would produce massive firings and be quite entertaining to watch.

whiskey_199 on February 8, 2008 at 9:21 PM

That’s it.

We’ve come to a resolution of the McCain debate.

We all eat butterscotch pudding until the election is over.

SteveMG on February 8, 2008 at 9:23 PM

a capella on February 8, 2008 at 8:02 PM

I see you think his temper gives him an advantage.

Gives us an advantage.

THE CHOSEN ONE on February 8, 2008 at 9:38 PM

SteveMG on February 8, 2008 at 9:04 PM

I believe you feel there are several. Who are they? I’m interested in your criteria for selection, if HA pudding stirrers all are liberals, if I am a chronic pudding stirrer, or even a liberal. For instance, the post to which, I was responding:

Now, the folks who put McCain as our nominee aren’t looking
so dumb now are we? Mitt would be so out of his element, and his cash wouldn’t be of help for the first time in his life.

THE CHOSEN ONE on February 8, 2008 at 7:25 PM

I am on record as respecting McCain’s POW sacrifices, but no more than any of the others who also suffered. His credentials to be C in C should not stem from that. If they are because he was in the military, what specifically are they? Does commanding a group of pilots insure the type of reasoning skills necessary to make a decision on Iran? That was the context. In his next post after the one I quoted, The Chosen One made reference to McCain’s temper as a credential. Do you agree with that? I might add that The Chosen One only began posting here after the last free registration, but he/she is definitely a McCain supporter. Is that part of your criteria?

a capella on February 8, 2008 at 9:45 PM

When it comes to matters of National Security, it is always, and I mean always better to be feared than respected. Ask Ronald Reagan

THE CHOSEN ONE on February 8, 2008 at 9:47 PM

I don’t follow links dude.

THE CHOSEN ONE on February 8, 2008 at 10:09 PM

I don’t follow links dude.

THE CHOSEN ONE on February 8, 2008 at 10:09 PM

C’mon. Pleeaase. Just this once. Maybe you’ve already seen it? Then, I understand.

a capella on February 8, 2008 at 10:13 PM

Can’t do it. I come to chat and have a little fun, maybe bash Mitt a little. Research on a source who has a friend of a friend’s opinion on something that might have happened or will happen is nowhere near as good a source as the feeling in my gut.

THE CHOSEN ONE on February 8, 2008 at 10:18 PM

Research on a source who has a friend of a friend’s opinion on something that might have happened or will happen is nowhere near as good a source as the feeling in my gut.

THE CHOSEN ONE on February 8, 2008 at 10:18 PM

Good grief. You’re making decisions on how your gut feels rather than read facts? Do you know what party is famous for that? Feel good stuff? How your gut feels? Maybe you want change. YES, WE CAN! Is that what trips your trigger?

a capella on February 8, 2008 at 10:25 PM

Won’t be water, but fire next time….

Asher on February 8, 2008 at 10:26 PM

Keep moving…..move it along……nothing to see here….

oakpack on February 8, 2008 at 10:27 PM

Mav is the Rasputin of politics and you folks know it. The left and the right slam him and he just keeps drivin’ that STE right through the middle. Pun intended. TEFLON JOHN

THE CHOSEN ONE on February 8, 2008 at 10:30 PM

So, what about this POW MIA obstruction stuff and the tapes he made for the NVA that they talk about on the LGF link? Wouldn’t it be a good thing to get it all out in the open before the campaign for the general begins in earnest? Lord knows what the Dems have up their sleeve. Let’s all join hands in unity on this thing, right? We’ve had far too much bickering. Time to close ranks, I say!

a capella on February 8, 2008 at 10:37 PM

The guy gets stronger with criticism. Damndest thing I ever did see.

THE CHOSEN ONE on February 8, 2008 at 10:40 PM

Let’s all join hands in unity on this thing, right? We’ve had far too much bickering. Time to close ranks, I say!

a capella on February 8, 2008 at 10:37 PM

Not if those hands belong to McShamnesty. I’ll vote Repub on the lower ticket, but will never vote for McCain. I’ve seen his middle finger many times, now he’ll see mine in the General!

jwp1964 on February 9, 2008 at 12:28 AM

3 minutes to midnight.

SuperCool on February 9, 2008 at 1:09 AM

Ahmadinejad says his goal is 50,000 centrifuges within five years,…

It’s always good to set goals for yourself.

labrat on February 9, 2008 at 1:29 AM

I wonder how all those ‘oh, they’re at least five years away from a bomb’ reassurances will sound…in five years.

We simply can’t keep kicking this can down the road.

James on February 9, 2008 at 5:23 AM

blah, blah, blah, Islamofacism, blah, blah, blah, propoganda, blah, blah, blah, McCain, blah, blah, blah, warmongering, blah, blah, blah, lose the House and Senate in November, 2006, blah, blah, blah, lose in a landslide to the Dems in November, 2008.

The “New” Republicans just don’t get it…

Fed Up on February 9, 2008 at 11:59 AM

This is ridiculous. How is the world letting Iran get away with this right now? Definitely not a McCain fan but he’s right where he needs to be on national security and this threat could not be more direct.

mattyj86 on February 9, 2008 at 9:47 PM