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  1. #1
    across the universe Olm the Water King's Avatar
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    Default Nuclear Plant in Iranian Desert Emerges as Flash Point in Talks

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/04/wo...alks.html?_r=0

    Nuclear Plant in Iranian Desert Emerges as Flash Point in Talks

    By WILLIAM J. BROADAPRIL 3, 2015

    The site looms up from the Iranian desert like something out of a thriller novel, ringed by antiaircraft batteries, a security perimeter two miles around, and huge tunnels that lead deep into the mountainous complex.

    Welcome to Fordo. Once a covert site of Iran’s sprawling nuclear program, then a closely monitored uranium enrichment plant, it is now a flash point in this week’s preliminary nuclear deal between the West and Tehran. The question is whether the proposed conversion of the site to a peaceful research center will prove effective or instead produce an illusion that eventually aids Iran’s pursuit of an atom bomb.

    Fordo — some 20 miles from the holy city of Qum, deep inside an Iranian Revolutionary Guards base — came to public attention in 2009 when President Obama announced its existence.

    The secret plant, Mr. Obama said, “represents a direct challenge to the basic foundation of the nonproliferation regime.” The Iranians, he added, “are going to have to come clean.”

    The Nonproliferation Treaty allows no secret work that could have application to the making of nuclear warheads. But inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency soon discovered that the Iranians planned to fill the cavernous halls with row upon row of centrifuges — tall machines that spin very fast to concentrate the rare form of uranium that fuels reactors and bombs.

    By late 2011, Iran had installed hundreds of centrifuges at Fordo and had begun enriching uranium to 20 percent, just shy of bomb purity. By 2012, the number of centrifuges at the underground plant had soared to more than 2,700, though only 696 were in use.

    The deep site represented a bold move in Iran’s war of nerves with the West. So much rock covered the enrichment halls that they could withstand all but the most powerful bombs. And Tehran, whenever it wanted, could throw another 2,000 centrifuges into enrichment.

    In 2012, at the United Nations, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel identified a “red line” beyond which he said Iran must not be allowed to pass: when it had enough purified uranium to quickly make a single nuclear weapon.

    In late 2013, the negotiations began on limiting Iran’s nuclear program and lifting economic sanctions, and Tehran agreed to stop purifying uranium to 20 percent at Fordo, immediately reducing the danger of rapidly crossing the red line. Instead, enrichment would be kept to less than 5 percent, a concentration often used in generating electricity.

    Many nuclear experts and American officials expected that the negotiations would end with Fordo’s complete dismantlement. David Albright, the president of the Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington research group that monitors Iran’s nuclear program, wrote early last year that “a key demand will be that this site close down.”

    But the preliminary deal announced in Switzerland on Thursday instead calls for the site’s conversion exclusively to peaceful research. Iran has agreed to forgo enriching uranium at Fordo for at least 15 years, and to conduct no research there on new enrichment gear. The proposed deal also calls for the removal of “almost two-thirds of Fordo’s centrifuges and infrastructure.”

    R. Scott Kemp, a centrifuge expert at M.I.T. who formerly worked at the State Department and Princeton, hailed the overall deal as “a remarkable achievement” but said Fordo could be a spoiler.

    Since the deal allows the retention of roughly 1,000 centrifuges in the site’s underground halls, and says nothing about forbidding the installation of highly advanced ones so long as they do no uranium enrichment, the site might eventually pose a danger, Dr. Kemp argued on the website of the M.I.T. Laboratory for Nuclear Security and Policy.

    He said Fordo thus configured might enable Iran to acquire the fuel for a bomb in as little as three months; the Obama administration has sought to lengthen the so-called breakout time to at least one year.

    The retained centrifuges, Dr. Kemp wrote, “could be rapidly repurposed for enriching uranium under a breakout scenario” unless they were specifically designed to be incompatible with such purification.

    He said that between now and late June, when negotiators are to complete the nuclear accord, they will face “the difficult task” of ensuring that centrifuges at Fordo are “physically incapable of uranium enrichment.”

    An alternative, he added, would be restrictions on the number and type of centrifuges allowed.

    “If this oversight is addressed,” Dr. Kemp said, the rest of the deal would “lengthen the breakout time to about one year.”

  2. #2
    is indra's Avatar
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    There are so many hot words in all this - nuclear, desert, centrifuge.

    Mmmmm.

  3. #3
    The Typing Tabby grey_beard's Avatar
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    So the upshot is, Obama proves himself every bit as deft as Wile E. Coyote: SUPER genius.
    In realpolitik time, three months is *nothing*.

    It will be interesting to see the House of Saud join up with Israel to flatten Iran.
    And that's the best-case scenario.

    Worst being widespread nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, followed by either Sunni-backed or Shi'ite backed (depending on which nation-state's internal controls are most porous) sleeper cells in the US with one or more small, dirty nukes going off in major cities.

    Or -- as has been noted in Iranian strategic writings -- do the terrorists go for an EMP attack and take out the US electric grid, leading to
    60% - 80% civilian casualties within a year?

    Ordinarily, the wild card would be the US Trident-armed subs, but MAD only applies when the side attacking the US wishes to stay alive: and the Iranian govt. is influenced by those who wish to bring about the return of the 12th Madhi : and massive death and destruction is required for this to happen (a feature, not a bug).

    Boston is not a major shipping hub compared to others, so the chances of the Iranians taking out Harvard via a nuke on a container ship (ironically, one of the suggestions made by Einstein to Roosevelt), which would constitute heavy irony / poetic justice for the proliferation, is comparatively small.
    "Love never needs time. But friendship always needs time. More and more and more time, up to long past midnight." -- The Crime of Captain Gahagan

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  4. #4
    deplorable basketcase Tellenbach's Avatar
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    Here's how I would negotiate the deal: Sign the damn deal or I nuke your favorite palace Mr. Khamenei; you have 10 minutes to make up your mind.
    Senator Rand Paul is alive because of modern medicine and because his attacker punches like a girl.

  5. #5
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    I'm more scared of Saudi Arabia having nukes than Iran, honestly. But then Pakistan and Israel already have nukes, and those are two of the scariest countries I could imagine having them. Another is North Korea, which possibly does.

    It might sound a little nihilistic, but those factors make me kind of not give a shit if Iran gets nukes.
    Go to sleep, iguana.


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  6. #6
    The Typing Tabby grey_beard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan View Post
    I'm more scared of Saudi Arabia having nukes than Iran, honestly. But then Pakistan and Israel already have nukes, and those are two of the scariest countries I could imagine having them. Another is North Korea, which possibly does.

    It might sound a little nihilistic, but those factors make me kind of not give a shit if Iran gets nukes.
    Israel with a nuke doesn't scare me, simply because they've probably had atomic weapons since the early 70s and thermonuclear since the late 80s / early 90s and they *still* haven't used them.

    Pakistan would scare me, except that their main enemy is India: and the two of those countries are mutally assured destruction -- India has the raw population to survive a first strike, but not if Pakistan takes out major parts of their infrastructure.

    North Korea, I assume, is under the firm control of China as far as its nuclear stockpile -- probably a dozen or so warheads, and nothing too sophisticated: but I'd be scared either of an EMP attack or a dirty bomb salted with cobalt.

    Iran getting nukes, though, kinda upsets the entire apple cart in the Middle East, particularly with the current administration being so...fickle...in its favours.
    "Love never needs time. But friendship always needs time. More and more and more time, up to long past midnight." -- The Crime of Captain Gahagan

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  7. #7
    Theta Male Julius_Van_Der_Beak's Avatar
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    I'm against nuclear proliferation, and I think stopping the spread of nukes is a good thing, so I support a deal. Also, I secretly want Israel to take over the whole world, so this is obviously a key factor in my opinion as well.


    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan
    I'm more scared of Saudi Arabia having nukes than Iran, honestly.
    The scariest thing to me is Saudi Arabia having a nuke, since that place seems extremely unstable to me. Apparently there has been court intrigue and assassinations in the past, besides the fact that the regime is one of the prime targets for militant Islamic fundamentalist movements due to it containing the cities of Mecca and Medina. It's entirely possible it could end up looking like Yemen at some point in the future. I wouldn't want a nuke thrown into the mix.

    If Iran gets nukes, then Saudi Arabia might start developing their own.
    [Trump's] rhetoric is not an abuse of power. In the same way that it's also not against the law to do a backflip off of the roof of your house onto your concrete driveway. It's just mind-numbingly stupid and, to say the least, counterproductive. - Bush did 9-11


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  8. #8
    Senior Member Adam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tellenbach View Post
    Here's how I would negotiate the deal: Sign the damn deal or I nuke your favorite palace Mr. Khamenei; you have 10 minutes to make up your mind.
    And there is why you are unfit to ever have any influence in such matters.
    ‘Many novelties have come from America. The most startling of these, a thing without precedent, is a mass of undignified poor. They do not love one another because they do not love themselves.’

    ‘And we will have made great strides in equality,
    when few have too much and fewer too little.’.
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  9. #9
    The Typing Tabby grey_beard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by msg_v2 View Post
    I'm against nuclear proliferation, and I think stopping the spread of nukes is a good thing, so I support a deal. Also, I secretly want Israel to take over the whole world, so this is obviously a key factor in my opinion as well.



    The scariest thing to me is Saudi Arabia having a nuke, since that place seems extremely unstable to me. Apparently there has been court intrigue and assassinations in the past, besides the fact that the regime is one of the prime targets for militant Islamic fundamentalist movements due to it containing the cities of Mecca and Medina. It's entirely possible it could end up looking like Yemen at some point in the future. I wouldn't want a nuke thrown into the mix.

    If Iran gets nukes, then Saudi Arabia might start developing their own.
    @msg_v2, @Magic Poriferan --

    Here, this'll cheer you right up. From a couple of years back.

    Pakistan 'ready to deliver nuclear weapons to Saudi Arabia' - Telegraph
    "Love never needs time. But friendship always needs time. More and more and more time, up to long past midnight." -- The Crime of Captain Gahagan

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  10. #10
    Senior Member ceecee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by msg_v2 View Post
    The scariest thing to me is Saudi Arabia having a nuke, since that place seems extremely unstable to me. Apparently there has been court intrigue and assassinations in the past, besides the fact that the regime is one of the prime targets for militant Islamic fundamentalist movements due to it containing the cities of Mecca and Medina. It's entirely possible it could end up looking like Yemen at some point in the future. I wouldn't want a nuke thrown into the mix.
    This seems odd to me, outside of the draw of Mecca and Medina. The Saudi's are Wahhabis and Sunni. Fundamentalists such as ISIS wouldn't have conflicting ideology with them. Plus it's not an unstable area at all. I just don't see them being a target.
    I like to rock n' roll all night and *part* of every day. I usually have errands... I can only rock from like 1-3.

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