Iran moves nuclear stockpile to above-ground facility

posted at 11:25 am on February 27, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

This is either moderately bad news, or really bad news.  I’ll let you decide:

When Iran was caught last September building a secret, underground nuclear enrichment plant at a military base near the city of Qum, the country’s leaders insisted they had no other choice. With its nuclear facilities under constant threat of attack, they said, only a fool would leave them out in the open.

So imagine the surprise of international inspectors almost two weeks ago when they watched as Iran moved nearly its entire stockpile of low-enriched nuclear fuel to an above-ground plant. It was as if, one official noted, a bull’s-eye had been painted on it.

Why take such a huge risk?

That mystery is the subject of fervent debate among many who are trying to decode Iran’s intentions. The theories run from the bizarre to the mundane: Under one, Iran is actually taunting the Israelis to strike first. Under another, it is simply escalating the confrontation with the West to win further concessions in negotiations. The simplest explanation, and the one that the Obama administration subscribes to, is that Iran has run short of suitable storage containers for radioactive fuel, so it had to move everything.

Could Iran be inviting an attack on the facility?  The mullahcracy is at its least secure in the 30 years since deposing the shah.  It exists now only through the auspices of its military and paramilitary forces, and is one adverse event from a coup.  They desperately need a legitimate outside threat — the Great Satan speeches about the US will no longer suffice — and perhaps they want to entice Israel into a quick airstrike.

That may be tempting for Israel, but even if that were the case, the mullahs and their IRGC sponsors would hardly leave all their uranium eggs in that above-ground basket.  They want a nuclear weapon, and if this is just bait, then they have sufficient quantities elsewhere for their larger purpose.  That is also the case if the move comes from a lack of underground storage.  Either means that the Iranians are producing enriched uranium at rates faster than the West has presumed — which probably also means that they’re enriching it to higher concentrations than presumed as well.

Either way, it looks like bad news.


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Does Obama WANT them to get the bomb?

jeanneb on February 27, 2010 at 11:30 AM

only reconciliation will stop them.

rob verdi on February 27, 2010 at 11:30 AM

Each day I am more impressed with the success of the Cairo speech./

Disturb the Universe on February 27, 2010 at 11:30 AM

Let’s not forget Ahmadinejad is a 12th-er. He wants to bring about the end times.

Disturb the Universe on February 27, 2010 at 11:32 AM

Nuke the stockpile.

JellyToast on February 27, 2010 at 11:32 AM

Damn, and we just spent all that money on bunker-busters!

Tony737 on February 27, 2010 at 11:32 AM

Does Obama WANT them to get the bomb?

Don’t be an idiot…

ninjapirate on February 27, 2010 at 11:33 AM


Why take such a huge risk?

Let “DisturbTheUniverse” answer that for you …

Let’s not forget Ahmadinejad is a 12th-er. He wants to bring about the end times.

- Disturb the Universe on February 27, 2010 at 11:32 AM

Tony737 on February 27, 2010 at 11:35 AM

Clearly, our only hope is for Afghanistan to do the job and establish itself as the leading global superpower.

ebrawer on February 27, 2010 at 11:35 AM

Did they paint a big bullseye on it and does it have a sign with hand pointing a finger at the nuke stockpile with the text (in Looney Toons) cartoon-style handwriting, “Israel, Nuke Stockpile not here”.

albill on February 27, 2010 at 11:36 AM

Readying it for transport?

ROCnPhilly on February 27, 2010 at 11:36 AM

They’re openly testing Obama. Showing the world he is a coward.

JellyToast on February 27, 2010 at 11:37 AM


… perhaps they want to entice Israel into a quick airstrike.

They need another ‘bad guy’ to get their people’s focus off of the so-called ‘elections’. “Hey, stop protesting the mullahs and look at what Israel just did! They’re the REAL enemy!”

Tony737 on February 27, 2010 at 11:38 AM

Does Obama WANT them to get the bomb?
Don’t be an idiot…

ninjapirate on February 27, 2010 at 11:33 AM

Don’t be so quick to call people idiots. Sit back and think for a change.

katy the mean old lady on February 27, 2010 at 11:38 AM

The Iranians are often irrational. However Ahamadinejad is consolidating his power against the mullahs and Iran is turning into a police state. So if the Iranian Revolutionary Guards want to get the populace on their side against the mullahs the best way is to get Israel to attack them. So I beieve this is a invitation for attack for domestic reasons. It still may be a good idea to hit the stockpile but Israel has to factor the US into the equation more than Iranians leaving a target out.

RAH on February 27, 2010 at 11:39 AM

The world has evaluated the President of the United States. He is not a threat. The United States is not a threat. Israel alone, is not a threat.

Skandia Recluse on February 27, 2010 at 11:39 AM

Perhaps there was a problem with the underground storage site. Maybe it was shoddily built, and in danger of collapse… or maybe it got contaminated by radiation.

stevieray on February 27, 2010 at 11:42 AM

Israel alone, is not a threat.

Skandia Recluse on February 27, 2010 at 11:39 AM

I hope your wrong about that.
I fear you are not.

Disturb the Universe on February 27, 2010 at 11:42 AM

Does Obama WANT them to get the bomb?

Don’t be an idiot…

ninjapirate on February 27, 2010 at 11:33 AM

Of course He does.

Regirding my loins.

rbj on February 27, 2010 at 11:42 AM


It was as if, one official noted, a bull’s-eye had been painted on it.

“It’s a very precise and compricated pran!” – Kim Jong-il

Tony737 on February 27, 2010 at 11:43 AM

the one that the Obama administration subscribes to, is that Iran has run short of suitable storage containers for radioactive fuel

Not to worry, the Bamster will send them more containers… then hurry back to his health care takeover.

petefrt on February 27, 2010 at 11:43 AM

Ignore the stockpile of low enriched fuel and work on an horrible industrial accident at the enrichment facilities. It’s hard for me to believe that there aren’t people sympathetic to the resistance that don’t work in those facilities. Think Poland, Mr. Obama.

Cindy Munford on February 27, 2010 at 11:43 AM

Don’t be so quick to call people idiots. Sit back and think for a change.

katy the mean old lady on February 27, 2010 at 11:38 AM

He doesn’t like others crowding him.

thomasaur on February 27, 2010 at 11:44 AM

This adds to my impression that if there is an attack it should concentrate on disabling the IRG and the militias and not waste time on the Maginot Line (to coin a phrase). I think the nukes are, strategically speaking, a red herring.

Seth Halpern on February 27, 2010 at 11:45 AM

One bright side… if war breaks out sooner rather than later it’ll divert Obama away from health care and his socialist movements…

… or not… He’d probably just ignore the whole thing…

Skywise on February 27, 2010 at 11:46 AM

Israel alone, is not a threat.

Skandia Recluse on February 27, 2010 at 11:39 AM

Don’t bet any heavy money on that one.

katy the mean old lady on February 27, 2010 at 11:47 AM

No other country in the Middle East wants Iran to have nuclear weapons. Not publicly but they will thank any country who rids them of this possibility.

Cindy Munford on February 27, 2010 at 11:48 AM

He doesn’t like others crowding him.

thomasaur on February 27, 2010 at 11:44 AM

Tee hee. That’s like catnip to me.

katy the mean old lady on February 27, 2010 at 11:49 AM

Does Obama WANT them to get the bomb?

Don’t be an idiot…

ninjapirate on February 27, 2010 at 11:33 AM

Put on your dunce cap and head for the corner, ninj’. You’re not paying attention.

ElectricPhase on February 27, 2010 at 11:52 AM

Does intelligence really know that the containers moved above ground really contain nuclear fuel? Is it possible that this is just a ruse with low-level waste to draw fire?

AZfederalist on February 27, 2010 at 11:53 AM

These are UN inspectors we are talking about…

Take some big containers…. mark em as “Nuwkular Matereals”… salt the top with low grade Uranium… and make the paperwork look like its all the stuff you got…

Enough to fool the UN and the Obama Admin…

Romeo13 on February 27, 2010 at 11:53 AM

AZfederalist on February 27, 2010 at 11:53 AM

LOL…. great minds….

Romeo13 on February 27, 2010 at 11:54 AM

Our troops should get out of Iraq NOW! They are too close to those nutjobs in Iran and they’re careless handling of nuclear material.
A capitalistic thought would be to lease space at Yucca Mt. Maybe we could recoup some of our dough the Feds blew there.

Kissmygrits on February 27, 2010 at 11:55 AM

I believe the ayatollahs!

When they say they have put their nuke stockpile somewhere, I trust them!

Me and Br’er Rabbit!

Don’t throw me in that briar patch, Mister Mullah!

Inshallah-di-dah!

profitsbeard on February 27, 2010 at 11:55 AM

Win – Win for Iran.
They either get a bomb or goad Israel to strike first which will have a minimal effect but will spark mass protests worldwide, unleashing Hamas and the Hizbos and getting world justification for going nuclear and rally their own people against the pro-democracy movement in Iran.
In short, we have a devil’s dilemma.

RobCon on February 27, 2010 at 11:56 AM

Does Obama WANT them to get the bomb?
jeanneb on February 27, 2010 at 11:30 AM

PBHO is ambivalent. He won’t go out of his way to stop them, that’s for sure, so if they get their nukes, “oh well” in his book.

Bishop on February 27, 2010 at 11:56 AM

Many of the Iranian leaders are belivers in something called the 12th Imam. Christianity says that Jesus will return and it will be great. Believers in the 12th Imam beleive that the world will be in a fire when the 12th returns.

Further that they can HASTEN the 12th by lighting the fire.

barnone on February 27, 2010 at 11:57 AM

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IT’S A TRAP

http://www.noah.org/wiki/ASCII_art

Drill_Thrawl on February 27, 2010 at 12:07 PM

but, but…..Obama gave the green light to shoot that Somalia teenage pirate…

surely, he can give the green light to destroy the nuke capacity of the greatest terrorist treat to mankind????

tatersalad on February 27, 2010 at 12:10 PM

Is it possible that this is just a ruse with low-level waste to draw fire?

AZfederalist on February 27, 2010 at 11:53 AM

Bingo.

petefrt on February 27, 2010 at 12:11 PM

How much airtime has that “mossad” hit with 26?! agents received in Iran? What was the purpose in showing the tapes worldwide? If Iran puts the nukes out in the open and films them being detonated and blames it on Israel- who in the Arab world is going to stand up and say Iran did it to themselves?

journeyintothewhirlwind on February 27, 2010 at 12:13 PM

Many of the Iranian leaders are believers in something called the 12th Imam. Christianity says that Jesus will return and it will be great. Believers in the 12th Imam believe that the world will be in a fire when the 12th returns.

Further that they can HASTEN the 12th by lighting the fire.

barnone on February 27, 2010 at 11:57 AM

The 12th imam already came.

In the middle of the 19th century.

Named Ali Muhammed Shirazi, he wrote books, got a good following going, annoyed the religious leaders, they tried to hang him, the rope broke, so they shot him.

Whoops.

profitsbeard on February 27, 2010 at 12:18 PM

So imagine the surprise of international inspectors almost two weeks ago when they watched as Iran moved nearly its entire stockpile of low-enriched nuclear fuel to an above-ground plant. It was as if, one official noted, a bull’s-eye had been painted on it.
=======================================================
What a golden opportunity!!

canopfor on February 27, 2010 at 12:20 PM

The mullahs keep thinking that the uranium is the ultimate target. They keep forgetting about themselves. I wouldn’t bunch up if I were them.

GarandFan on February 27, 2010 at 12:23 PM

D) They calculate the IAF can’t get through their SAMs and the Americans won’t try.

Chris_Balsz on February 27, 2010 at 12:24 PM

Does Obama WANT them to get the bomb?

jeanneb on February 27, 2010 at 11:30 AM

Does Obama hate the British?

nyx on February 27, 2010 at 12:27 PM

What bothers me,is hiding things in the middle of
a mountian!

I’m telling ya,its Dooms Day type of thinking!

Mullahs under da mountian,sterilizing earth of infidels!!

And again,remember,the Nazis had V-2′s ready to go!!

http://www.showcaves.com/english/de/misc/MittelbauDora.html

canopfor on February 27, 2010 at 12:28 PM

Type for Israel and Netanyahu to step up.
The Fool in the Oval Office will not.

nyx on February 27, 2010 at 12:28 PM

I mean Time not Type…Egads…

nyx on February 27, 2010 at 12:29 PM

Does Obama hate the British?

nyx on February 27, 2010 at 12:27 PM

nyx: Remember when Iran siezed the British sailors!!

Iran seizes five British sailors to raise stakes in stand-off with …

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article6938055.ece

canopfor on February 27, 2010 at 12:31 PM

Did the Germans or Japanese do anything tricky, or unclear to us during WWII? Did we wait to find out what they were up to, or did we just continue to fight them? Let’s do nothing until Iran tests its nuclear weapon or attacks someone. Then we can be sure what they’re up to /

JiangxiDad on February 27, 2010 at 12:35 PM

There needs to be an “accident” that is inconclusive on how but destroyed from within. Even if it is very conclusive that it was an accident the mullahs will still blame Israel and the US.

This is like to Catch a predator. They put the candy on the floor and taunt everyone to attack.

tjexcite on February 27, 2010 at 12:40 PM

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/iran/nuke.htm

Qom (Ghom)
Digital Globe Imagery January 2009
Imagery released by Digital Globe taken during January 2009. No specific dates for the images were available.

http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/iran/qom-imagery-090100.htm

From/

http://www.globalsecurity.org/index.html

canopfor on February 27, 2010 at 12:46 PM

Did the Germans or Japanese do anything tricky, or unclear to us during WWII?

JiangxiDad on February 27, 2010 at 12:35 PM

JiangxiDad: Yes,the Japanese tried to torch,North American
Forests!!:)

Fire Balloons – Incendiary Devices Launched by Japan During World War II

http://www.japan-101.com/history/fire_balloons_or_balloon_bombs.htm

========================================
========================================
Fire balloon

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fire_balloon

canopfor on February 27, 2010 at 12:51 PM

Word on the street is that the Iranian’s enriched material is contaminated and not useful for a bomb. That would explain why they would go through with the exchange deal only if the Europeans handed over good fuel rods immediately and only on Iranian soil. By the time the Euro’s discovered the contamination, the Iranians would have the good rods secured. Additionally, there is speculation that the reason the North Korean’s bomb tests yielded so low (about 1/2 kiloton) is that it was really an Iranian bomb built with the contaminated (unknown by the Iranians at the time) uranium.

lonesomecharlie on February 27, 2010 at 1:06 PM

While Iran gets the bomb, Obama votes present dancing the nights away. Nero would be impressed.

devolvingtowardsidiocracy on February 27, 2010 at 1:15 PM

It is probably barrels of powdered milk for babies. Besides, sit back amd let the Muslim America-Democratic Green party triumph in Iran with demands for smaller government and honest politicians who are freedom loving slaves of Allah.

BL@KBIRD on February 27, 2010 at 1:18 PM

The Iranians are schemers but they are not known to be masters of subtlety. It probably won’t take a Cray computer to figure out what they’re up to. I’d ask Israeli intelligence for their assessment…if I had their phone number.

SKYFOX on February 27, 2010 at 1:19 PM

While Iran gets the bomb, Obama votes present dancing the nights away. Nero would be impressed.

devolvingtowardsidiocracy on February 27, 2010

That would explain why the White House provided ugly-leisure-suit guy with a list of Obama’s date nights for the next three years.

SKYFOX on February 27, 2010 at 1:23 PM

Is it possible that this is just a ruse with low-level waste to draw fire?

AZfederalist on February 27, 2010 at 11:53 AM

That would be my guess as well!

sharrukin on February 27, 2010 at 1:28 PM

Reminds me of the “baby formula” plant that got nailed in Iraq during
Desert Storm. Remember the video of the workers walking around the ruins
with uniforms on that actually said “Baby Formula Factory” IN ENGLISH, no less.

elderberry on February 27, 2010 at 1:49 PM

Iran has the Bomb. It’s a taunt and a trap.

Obama and his minions now have their multi-polar world.

(The hope & change they were looking for…)

Bruno Strozek on February 27, 2010 at 2:03 PM

Either way, it looks like bad news.

And Obama does nothing. Does he think a nuclear holocaust in the middle east is enough of a crisis to get people in the USA to accept the strong man argument and embrace tyranny? I mean, a vital part of the Obama strategy relies on crisis. And the biggest event right now Obama can latch his political agenda on to? The Olympics. If there aren’t any crises – make one.

chicagojedi on February 27, 2010 at 2:17 PM

B O H I C A

Oldnuke on February 27, 2010 at 3:55 PM

They’re exposing their contaminated/unusable crap to either a) fool the West into believing they are “coming clean”,… or
b) draw fire in order to unify an unhappy populace against a common external enemy,… or
c) a + b

hillbillyjim on February 27, 2010 at 4:06 PM

Israeli strike planners are to clever by half to be taken in by this… they know to watch the hand that you can’t see.

It simply makes the calculus of taking out as much supply and production capability that much simpler – they will still strike and strike deep all the underground facilities they can identify.

And with their recently unveiled fleet of airliner-sized drones (they could only be that big for lifting lots of big bunker-busting bombs) they will be risking far less in a strike – certainly far fewer pilots.

ElRonaldo on February 27, 2010 at 4:10 PM

Orrrrrrrr, it could be a bunch of these fun mullahs were sitting around and one of them said:

“Hey, how ’bout we see just how gullible this big-eared imbecile is, just for kicks?”

hillbillyjim on February 27, 2010 at 4:11 PM

Hopefully, Israel keeps its eye on the real nuclear target – the means of production. I’m sure they realize that this is both a trap and a red herring.

I would be watching other sites very closely.

OldEnglish on February 27, 2010 at 4:30 PM

Note that I am not defending Obama here, just an idea.

Every action does not require a reaction that is seen. Much could be going on.

OneEyedJack on February 27, 2010 at 4:32 PM

The honestly hard earned result of going all wobbly when Iranian citizens amidst sacrificing their lives are denied the support of the American liberty engine.

Reichstag fires means exactly diddly squat if the side chosen is clearly, the people of Iran.

Speakup on February 27, 2010 at 4:46 PM

Don’t be an idiot…

ninjapirate on February 27, 2010

Hypocrite.

chimney sweep on February 27, 2010 at 4:52 PM

Does Obama want them to get the bomb?
Worse than that he is ambivalent. He must be prodded to action when action is desperately needed. He feels, as does Valerie Jarret, that the US is an Imperialist nation and should keep its nose out of world affairs. We have interfered and meddled enough. Change…
Supported the would be dictator in the Honduras. Snubs the UK at every opportunity. (It was during Churchill’s second premiership that Britain suppressed Kenya’s Mau Mau rebellion. Obamas Grandfather was held and may well have been tortured during captivity during that time. Thus Churchill’s bust was banished and the UK is snubbed.)
He believes that those that those that live under Communist rule do so because they choose to. That people should be “free” to choose whatever form of government they seek and that those that live under Communist rule do so willingly.
Not long ago. The people thought that they were free to choose the manner of their governance. They called for Democracy in a public place. China’s Communist leaders crushed their bodies with tanks. There is your freedom to choose Obama. And you know this well. Manufacturing czar Ron Bloom… “We kind of agree with Mao that political power comes largely from the barrel of a gun.”
Bloom is a Harvard grad and former SEIU official with close ties to ACORN. Whoda thunk it?

It’s much easier to bring “change” if you do it in baby steps.

Army Brat on February 27, 2010 at 5:16 PM

They have been desperately praying that someone will bomb them so they can keep their phony-baloney jobs, but no one will. Definitely looking for a Reichstag fire.

Jaibones on February 27, 2010 at 5:22 PM

Getting ready for an auction.

JusDreamin on February 27, 2010 at 5:40 PM

Three letters,

E.M.P.

& be done with it already.

Archimedes on February 27, 2010 at 5:43 PM

Ignore the stockpile of low enriched fuel and work on an horrible industrial accident at the enrichment facilities. It’s hard for me to believe that there aren’t people sympathetic to the resistance that don’t work in those facilities. Think Poland, Mr. Obama.

Cindy Munford on February 27, 2010 at 11:43 AM

Sounds like the 2nd to the last Vince Flynn book! (Or was it the one before that?)

Colorado Anne on February 27, 2010 at 5:49 PM

Archimedes on February 27, 2010 at 5:43 PM

They can’t be that dumb, can they?

Even assumlng they set the EMP off over Iranian territory, what’s the destructive range? I can’t believe they have enough hardened sites to not get ‘stone aged’ themselves.

Game it out, please.

Bruno Strozek on February 27, 2010 at 6:24 PM

They want a nuclear weapon,

So, what’s the problem. Let’s give ‘em one. Or two.

MikeA on February 27, 2010 at 6:40 PM

I thought that all of this would end when we got rid of W.

IlikedAUH2O on February 27, 2010 at 8:41 PM

Does Obama WANT them ISRAEL to get the IRANIAN bomb?

jeanneb on February 27, 2010 at 11:30 AM

fify

dthorny on February 27, 2010 at 8:58 PM

Why take such a huge risk?

Because the regime in charge in Iran needs an attack from the West or Israel in order to re-establish legitimacy with the Iranian public after splitting the country by compromising any democratic credentials the country had.

Iranians take their democracy seriously. It is one of the reasons why they resent the West (past regime changes against the popular will). Iranian society is split and the fault lines run through the regime as well as the population.

The radicals need an outside threat to regain popular support and, if Iran is attacked by foreigners, they will unite behind their leaders. Iran has enough of its nuclear assets in hardened locations to endure air attacks.

It is worth pointing out here that Saddam’s nuclear program was left largely intact after the Gulf War despite loads of sorties. It was inspection teams on the ground that located and terminated the vast majority of Saddam’s nuclear and biological assets and this is further evidenced in the findings of the survey groups after the more recent conflict.

The regime is in real trouble at home and regime change is best performed by the main beneficiaries, the Iranian people. The US and other countries can help this along.

Talk of war against Iran is really unrealistic.

lexhamfox on February 27, 2010 at 10:37 PM

Do we need an excuse to nuke a bunch of terrorists?

Philly on February 27, 2010 at 10:37 PM

I’m not an expert, but if it’s above ground would it be harder to strike and contain the radiation? If it’s under ground, would the strike spread less radiation. Maybe it’s a deterrent to a strike, and also to make it look like they have more than they do.

Ed Laskie on February 27, 2010 at 11:25 PM

I say blast the whole works straight to Mars while we can.

Who cares of the Persian camel-washers have an ulterior motive or not?

Dave R. on February 28, 2010 at 7:18 AM

Publicly move it into the facility, quietly move it out.
The facility gets hit .. the Iranians continue on with their bomb with the West suckered into believing the immediate threat is over .. so talks of sanctions are dropped.

J_Crater on February 28, 2010 at 10:24 AM

Now that “Dear Leader” has declared the $15Billion of research and the decades of preparation of Yucca Mountain for holding our nuclear waste a dead issue for America, perhaps he can offer it out to Iran as a type of “Public Storage” facility for their enriched uranium.

Hey! It could be a two-fer! Think of how much money he could get for monthly rental while Iran perfects its bomb and missile designs…

It would probably be enough to:
- finance a few more Congressional bribes to pass Obama’s health care plan and cap & trade
- AND have $ leftover for his 2012 campaign.

in_awe on February 28, 2010 at 1:45 PM

Gird your loins! Biden warned us that “we’re gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of [Obama]”

This “on-the-job training” stuff is hard…

Texas Rainmaker on February 28, 2010 at 7:20 PM

Ezekiel 38-39 here we come.

wi farmgirl on February 28, 2010 at 10:36 PM

Does this turd wear pants or a dress? Just asking.

jgdp on March 1, 2010 at 12:52 AM