From The Australian, June 12, 2012, by Emanuele Ottolenghi*:
AS negotiations over Iran's nuclear program are about to resume in
Moscow next Monday, Western leaders insist that Iran's Supreme Leader,
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has yet to make a decision about whether to build
nuclear weapons, despite evidence that Iran has been seeking nuclear weapons
ever since the beginning of its nuclear program, almost 30 years ago.
...On February 25, for example, the Director of US National Intelligence,
James R. Clapper Jr, testified before the US congress that "Iran is
keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons, in part by developing
various nuclear capabilities that better position it to produce such weapons,
should it choose to do so." He added, "We do not know, however, if
Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons."
Three days later, US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta repeated this view to
congress: "They're developing a nuclear capability (but) our intelligence
makes clear that they haven't made the decision to develop a nuclear
.... against their repeated reassurances that
Iran has not made a decision yet, there's Iran's constant pulling of the
curtain seconds before its cheating act is caught on camera.
Consider the following:
Iran pursued major elements of its nuclear program in secret for at least 18
years, in violation of its solemn Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations.
Iran procured much of its nuclear technology, including plans to build
uranium metal hemispheres that can only be used for a nuclear device, from A.
Q. Khan. The Khan network supplied Iran and other countries, such as Libya,
with sensitive nuclear technology, including blueprints for a nuclear device.
Iran never denied having received any of the above. On the contrary, it
confirmed that it possessed the Khan documents.
Iran insists that it intends to enrich uranium to feed several nuclear power
plants. Apart from Bushehr, however, work has not started on any other plants.
And the uranium needed to fuel the Bushehr plant will come from Russia. But the
60,000 sq m centrifuge field at Natanz, constructed deep underground and
protected by layers of reinforced concrete, is capable of producing highly
enriched uranium for nuclear weapons.
All research centres involved in Iran's nuclear program have links to, or
are an integral part of, the Iranian armed forces. This would be both
inappropriate and unnecessary if the centres were designed for purely civilian
purposes. The Revolutionary Guards play key roles in all matters relating to
the nuclear program, while Iran's military industry manufactures the
According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, "Iran had used
undeclared nuclear material for testing and experimentation in several uranium
conversion, enrichment, fabrication and irradiation activities, including the
separation of plutonium, at undeclared locations and facilities".
Iran's scientists have conducted experiments with high explosives and
special triggers that could work in a nuclear device; they have studied the
geometry of implosion of the Trinity Test - America's first plutonium nuclear
weapons test - and they have refitted long-range missiles to accommodate a
The program includes a heavy-water research reactor, whose structure and
dimension suggest a military purpose - the enrichment of plutonium - given that
Iran's power stations would ostensibly be fuelled by uranium.
Faced with pressure to open Parchin, a military site, to inspections due to
mounting evidence of nuclear weapons-related military tests, Iran is trying to
sanitise it, much like Syria did with the rubble of its undeclared nuclear
reactor after it was destroyed in an Israeli air raid in 2007. As if all of
this was not enough, there is the underground enrichment plant at Fordow, whose
"size and configuration", as Barack Obama said in 2009, "is
inconsistent with a peaceful program".
These are commendably blunt words. ...But the argument according to which Iran has not made a decision yet,
weighed against the evidence of almost 30 years of dogged, relentless and stubborn
pursuit of nuclear weapons, sounds like a betrayed husband choosing not to
believe what everyone else already knows.
*Emanuele Ottolenghi is a fellow at the Foundation for Defence of
Democracies and the author of The Pasdaran: Inside Iran's Revolutionary Guards'