As Iranian Nuclear Program Forges Ahead, is 2013 a Make-or-Break Year?

December 5, 2012 9:59 pm 1 comment

The Arak IR-40 heavy water reactor in Iran. Photo: Nanking2012/Wikimedia Commons.

While it has been overshadowed by a number of other Middle East issues ranging from Gaza to Egypt to Syria as 2012 winds down, the growing Iranian nuclear program still looms large over the region, and recent signs indicate that the issue might finally come to a resolution in 2013—peacefully or not.

According to the Nov. 16 quarterly report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog group, Iran’s work on the deep underground nuclear site—Fordo, near the holy city of Qom—is nearly complete. The site now has the full nuclear capacity of 2,784 centrifuges, an increase of 644 since the previous IAEA report in August.

Iran expert Ilan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council (AFPC), told JNS.org that the latest report “confirms that the nuclear program is continuing and maturing.”

The November IAEA report said only 696 of the 2,784 Fordo centrifuges are actually enriching uranium. Berman, however, warned that while the regime appears to be moving a bit slower on enrichment, it could “weaponize” at any time.

If Iran does “weaponize,” how powerful would its bomb be? Computer simulations run by Iranian scientists reveal a nuclear weapon with more than three times the power of the bomb America dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, during World War II, the Associated Press reported Nov. 28. The AP cited a diagram it obtained from anonymous officials featuring a bell curve whose highest point is 50 kilotons (a measurement unit indicating nuclear force), compared with the Hiroshima bomb’s power of 15 kilotons.

Many experts are also concerned with Iran’s refusal to allow IAEA inspectors into the Parchin military complex. The IAEA believes that Iran may have conducted “explosives tests” as part of its nuclear program at the site, its report said. Satellite photographs indicate that Iran has been working quickly to clean the site up, while delaying the IAEA’s access.

In addition to its nuclear activities, Iran has also been working to develop its ballistic missile program. According to the U.S. Institute of Peace, Iran has the largest and most diverse ballistic missile arsenal in the Middle East. Currently, Iran possesses the capability to strike anywhere in the region, including Israel. Iran is also working to develop its solid fuel missile capable of being fired within minutes. known as the Sajjil missiles. According to experts, the Sajjil missile class is the most likely missile to be paired with a nuclear weapon.

Despite these developments, U.S. President Barack Obama remains confident in diplomacy. In a White House news conference in mid-November, Obama reiterated that sentiment.

“I very much want to see a diplomatic resolution to the problem,” Obama said.

Obama added that in the coming months, he will push to renew dialogue, which has been stalled since the last round of nuclear talks in June.

“I will try to make a push in the coming months to see if we can open up a dialogue between Iran and not just us, but the international community to see if we can get this thing resolved,” he said.

Obama’s push toward restarting diplomacy may be the reason why the administration was quietly opposed to the latest round of sanctions targeting Iran’s energy and shipping sectors, approved by the U.S. Senate on Nov. 30.

A National Security Council memo issued before the vote said the sanctions were “unnecessary, duplicative and threaten to confuse and undermine provisions in current law,” according to the AP.

“There’s an appetite for talks within the [Obama] administration. The administration is still very much in the mode for diplomacy,” Berman said.

One of the reasons why diplomacy is still a viable option is the dramatic effect sanctions have had on the Iranian economy.  In October, Iran’s currency, which had already been declining for years, plummeted nearly 40 percent.

Meanwhile, a powerful European and American oil embargo has forced Iranian oil output to its lowest monthly levels in decades, significantly curtailing exports as well, according to the International Energy Agency and the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

As a result of the pressure, there are signs that Iran is ready to return to negotiations. The New York Times reported before the Nov. 6 U.S. elections that the U.S. and Iran were prepared to enter bilateral talks. Both sides quickly denied the report.

Nevertheless, Israeli-Iranian expert Meir Javedanfar, author of The Nuclear Sphinx of Tehran: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the State of Iran, told JNS.org that he thinks the majority of regime officials in Iran are coming around to the idea of talks with the U.S.

“More people in the Iranian regime are coming to that conclusion. Keeping the status quo could be very costly for the regime,” Javedanfar said.

However, Javedanfar pointed out that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei remains strongly opposed to dialogue.

“The revolution has been a failure, one of the last things that he [Khamenei] has is the American hatred,” Javedanfar said. “If he shows any compromise over the nuclear issue, that sends signs of weakness and America might ask for more.”

Nevertheless, Javedanfar is optimistic that the current impasse will be broken, saying he feels the U.S. will make a “major offer” sometime in 2013 that could pressure Iran into brokering a deal on American terms.

For now, despite signs of cracking within the Iranian regime, it remains to be seen whether or not the regime is fully prepared to resolve the nuclear issue peacefully.

“Nothing is more important to the Iranian regime than its survival,” Javedanfar added.

1 Comment

  • I want war . No more talks . We can talk after we nuke them . That will grab some serious talks . They don’t wanna talk now . Let’s give them a reason to talk . GOD BLESS ISRAEL & THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Jewish Identity Sports Cycling the Desert: New Israel Bike Trail Connects Mitzpe Ramon to Eilat

    Cycling the Desert: New Israel Bike Trail Connects Mitzpe Ramon to Eilat

    As the popularity of cycling continues to increase across the world, Israel is working to develop cycling trails that make the country’s spectacular desert accessible to cyclists. The southern segment of the Israel Bike Trail was inaugurated on Feb. 24 and offers for the first time a unique, uninterrupted 8-day cycling experience after six years of planning and development. The southern section of the Israel Bike Trail stretches over 300 kilometers in length and is divided into eight segments for mountain biking, [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Forthcoming Major Action Movies Inspired by Jewish Comic Artist Jack Kirby

    Forthcoming Major Action Movies Inspired by Jewish Comic Artist Jack Kirby

    JNS.org – With the recent Oscars in the rearview mirror, Hollywood’s attention now shifts to the rest of this year’s big-screen lineup. Two of the major action films coming up in 2015—Avengers: Age of Ultron, which hits theaters in May, and the third film in the Fantastic Four series, slated for an August release—have Jewish roots that the average moviegoer might be unaware of. As it turns out, it took a tough Jewish kid from New York City’s Lower East [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity When Torah Teaches Life and Life Teaches Torah (REVIEW)

    When Torah Teaches Life and Life Teaches Torah (REVIEW)

    JNS.org – Rabbi Gordon Tucker spent the first 20 years of his career teaching at the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) and the next 20 years as the rabbi of Temple Israel Center in White Plains, N.Y. I confess that when I heard about the order of those events, I thought that Tucker’s move from academia to the pulpit was strange. Firstly, I could not imagine anyone filling the place of my friend, Arnold Turetsky, who was such a talented [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Oscars 2015: Reflecting on Love at First Sight

    Oscars 2015: Reflecting on Love at First Sight

    JNS.org – I’m in love, and have been for a long time. It’s a relationship filled with laughter, tears, intrigue, and surprise. It was love at first sight, back when I was a little girl—with an extra-terrestrial that longed to go home. From then on, that love has never wavered, and isn’t reserved for one, but for oh so many—Ferris Bueller, Annie Hall, Tootsie, Harry and Sally, Marty McFly, Atticus Finch, Danny Zuko, Yentl, that little dog Toto, Mrs. Doubtfire, [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews Examining America’s First Foray into the Middle East (REVIEW)

    Examining America’s First Foray into the Middle East (REVIEW)

    At the turn of the 21st century through today, American involvement in Middle Eastern politics runs through the Central Intelligence Agency. In America’s Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East, historian Hugh Wilford shows this has always been the case. Wilford methodically traces the lives and work of the agency’s three most prominent officers in the Middle East: Kermit “Kim” Roosevelt was the grandson of president Theodore Roosevelt, and the first head of [...]

    Read more →
  • Relationships US & Canada Seniors at Los Angeles Jewish Home Give Witty Dating Advice Ahead of Valentine’s Day (VIDEO)

    Seniors at Los Angeles Jewish Home Give Witty Dating Advice Ahead of Valentine’s Day (VIDEO)

    Residents of the Los Angeles Jewish Home give dating advice to a young Jewish man in a comedic video posted Monday on YouTube just in time for Valentine’s Day. Jonathan, an associate at the Jewish home, quizzes the senior citizens on an array of topics including having sex on the first date, kissing a girl, who should pay for dinner and whether online dating is a good idea. When the 28-year-old asks a male resident named Lee about his experiences [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish History Kutsher’s Documentary an Amazing, and Tragic, Look at the Past (REVIEW)

    Kutsher’s Documentary an Amazing, and Tragic, Look at the Past (REVIEW)

    Anyone who spent time in the Jewish Catskills hotels – especially those like me, who returned for decades – must see the new documentary,”Welcome to Kutsher’s: The Last Catskills Resort.” Not only will the film transport you back to the glory days of your youth and thousands of memories, but it will also make you long for a world that is now lost forever. I returned to Kutsher’s one last time in the summer of 2009, but by then, the [...]

    Read more →
  • Education Jewish Identity Lifestyle Riding the Wave of Change in Part-Time Jewish Education

    Riding the Wave of Change in Part-Time Jewish Education

    JNS.org – Amid the numerous studies and analyses regarding Jewish American life, a simple fact remains: part-time Jewish education is the most popular vehicle for Jewish education in North America. Whenever and wherever parents choose Jewish education for their children, we have a communal responsibility to devote the necessary time and resources to deliver dynamic, effective learning experiences. The only way we can do this is by creating space for conversations and knowledge-sharing around innovative new education models. That also [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.