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Iran "Generally Truthful" on Nukes

1:10 PM, Nov 15, 2007 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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The AP headline: "IAEA: Iran Generally Truthful on Nukes." I feel better already.

A report from the U.N nuclear watchdog agency on Thursday found Iran to be generally truthful about key aspects of its nuclear history, but it warned that its knowledge of Tehran's present atomic work was shrinking.

And this comes on the heels of an AP report earlier this week that,

Iran has met a key demand of the U.N. nuclear agency, handing over long-sought blueprints showing how to mold uranium metal into the shape of warheads, diplomats said Tuesday.

Iran's decision to release the documents, which were seen by U.N. inspectors two years ago, was seen as a concession designed to head off the threat of new U.N. sanctions.

For whatever reason, some folks are just desperate to believe the Iranians. Take the FP Passport blog for example, which found "plausible" the Iranian explanation for how the country had accidentally ended up with blueprints for a nuclear weapon:

On the surface, this claim is plausible. The A.Q. Khan network (and presumably, any other extant illicit networks supplying nuclear material) dealt in all types of dangerous materials and information, and the nature of a black market lends itself to disorganization and mistakes like the one Iran claims occurred....

Fortunately, though, these documents apparently did not contain blueprints for an entire nuclear weapons core. Machining enriched uranium (or plutonium) metal into a perfect sphere is merely one of many engineering challenges posed by an implosion nuclear weapon--an explosives array must be carefully designed to compress the metal effectively, for instance, and as we've seen with Iran, the enrichment process itself is very difficult to perfect without help. Hopefully the IAEA report will show Iran has benign intentions or, at least, that it has not progressed further towards building a nuclear weapon. But we'll have to wait and see.

Now the IAEA's report is out, and they find the Iranians to be "generally truthful." The Iranians had "accidentally" received blueprints for a nuclear warhead (as part of an illegal transfer of nuclear know-how), which were "accidentally" discovered by the IAEA, and we are still supposed to believe that (a) they aren't working towards a nuclear weapon, (b) they don't have other blueprints with which they weren't quite so careless, and (c) the IAEA's standard for compliance has always been "generally truthful." This wishful thinking can only lead to one conclusion--a nuclear Iran. And, while the use of force to prevent such an outcome is certain to be painful for all parties involved, diplomacy just isn't going to work, because the IAEA is all trust, and no verify.