Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

This blog is devoted to a variety of topics including politics, current events, legal issues, and we even take the time to have some occasional fun. After all, blogging is about having a little fun, right?

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Could Iran Have Advanced Nuclear Weapons Designs?

That is the question posited by Captain Ed after a story in the WaPo about advanced nuclear weapons designs found on a laptop owned by a Swiss businessman:

An international smuggling ring that sold bomb-related parts to Libya, Iran and North Korea also managed to acquire blueprints for an advanced nuclear weapon, according to a draft report by a former top U.N. arms inspector that suggests the plans could have been shared secretly with any number of countries or rogue groups.

The drawings, discovered in 2006 on computers owned by Swiss businessmen, included essential details for building a compact nuclear device that could be fitted on a type of ballistic missile used by Iran and more than a dozen developing countries, the report states.

The computer contents -- among more than 1,000 gigabytes of data seized -- were recently destroyed by Swiss authorities under the supervision of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency, which is investigating the now-defunct smuggling ring previously led by Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan.

But U.N. officials cannot rule out the possibility that the blueprints were shared with others before their discovery, said the report's author, David Albright, a prominent nuclear weapons expert who spent four years researching the smuggling network.

"These advanced nuclear weapons designs may have long ago been sold off to some of the most treacherous regimes in the world," Albright wrote in a draft report about the blueprint's discovery. A copy of the report, expected to be published later this week, was provided to The Washington Post.

If these blueprints got out, then nations like Iran would need only the fissile materials to create a nuclear warhead. AQ Khan was dealing in nuclear weapons technology when he was caught by the Pakistanis. They forgave him, but these new designs look to be far more cutting-edge than the initial plans he was caught peddling. Keep in mind that when he was caught, Khan's "little black book" fell into the hands of his purchasers, and it has been speculated that those purchasers have been working hand-in-hand to acquire a working nuclear weapon.

Recall if you will the site bombed by the Israelis last year in Syria. It was believed to have been a nuclear facility, and based on their intelligence with agents inside the facility, they were justified in hitting it. Given that it looked much like one of North Korea's reactor facilities, and the North Koreans were assisting them, it can only be assumed that the AQ Khan network was still alive and well, and at least being maintained by his past customers.

Iran has the ability to build ballistic missiles. They have quite a few that can reach Eastern Europe. If the designs are as sleek and compact as the UN claims they are, then this presents a significant shift in the Iran nuclear issue. They are enriching uranium right now in over 3000 centrifuges. The IAEA has stated they could create fissile materials for a nuclear weapon, but to date, no evidence of Iran working on nuclear weapons. The IAEA cannot say definitively that Iran is not working on nuclear weapons because they have not toured all of Iran's facilities. This story should be a point of concern for the West, and we are positive that the president is looking at the next set of options he has.

Speaking of options, it appears that the EU and Britain have grown tired of screwing around with the UN. They have moved to enact sanctions. They have agreed to freeze the assets of Iran’s largest bank, Bank Melli, in response to Tehran’s refusal to suspend its uranium enrichment program. So all is not lost, but things do not look good if Iran cannot be stopped.



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