Surprise! Iran opens heavy-water production plant

They’re men of their word, I’ll give them that. Big deal or no big deal? Here’s a passage from a report about the nuclear plant they’re building in Arak written back in 2003 by Jack Boureston, an expert in nuclear tech and former analyst for the IAEA:

The IR-40 heavy water research reactor is significant because it produces high quality plutonium, the most important component for a compact, nuclear device. If Iran wishes to develop a nuclear weapon small enough to launch on top of its Shahab 3 or 4 missiles, it will most probably be an implosion device with a plutonium (Pu) core. The only way to acquire that is through reprocessing irradiated fuel. Bushehr is a light water reactor that has received much international attention and most probably will continue to be closely scrutinised, making it difficult to clandestinely remove its spent fuel for reprocessing. Even if the IR-40 has just as much attention, the Iranians would have a better chance of removing irradiated fuel or irradiating natural uranium targets for Pu production in this reactor.

Indeed, a heavy water reactor is among the most dangerous in existence from a proliferation perspective.

Russia is hinting it’ll veto Security Council sanctions on Iran — so Bush is moving to plan B. An interesting dilemma for the nutroots: if Bush actually can put together a coalition of western European nations to impose their own sanctions, is it a victory for diplomacy? Or does the lack of a UN imprimatur render that approach illegitimate per se? Or is it as simple as Bush being wrong no matter what move he makes?

Elsewhere, Slapstick Politics has a selection of cartoons from Tehran’s sparsely-attended Holocaust-denial snoozer. Nice job by this guy working the “Christkiller” angle in:


And this guy too, for his minor masterpiece of self-pity and moral equivalence:


It’s been a hell of a week for the victim industry in the Middle East. But then, it always is.