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...

  • Book Reviews Personalities How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    JNS.org – What would you do if you found out that you had only three more months to live? Gordon Zacks was a successful businessman, a leader of Jewish life, and a confidante and adviser to President George H.W. Bush. He knew that he had prostate cancer, but doctors advised him that it was very slow-growing and nothing to worry about. Then came the day when the doctors told him his cancer metastasized to his liver, and that he had [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Theater 10 Things I Learned From My Play About Holocaust Denial

    10 Things I Learned From My Play About Holocaust Denial

    Last month, my one-man show Hoaxocaust! Written and performed by Barry Levey with the generous assistance of the Institute for Political and International Studies, Tehran ran in the New York International Fringe Festival, where it won an Overall Excellence Award. The play has now been selected to run in the Fringe Encores Series at Baruch College’s Performing Arts Center, for four performances which started on Thursday, September 11. Getting the play to the stage was not easy, however. Here are [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel Israeli Music Producer Racks Up Over 535,000 YouTube Hits – in Two Days

    Israeli Music Producer Racks Up Over 535,000 YouTube Hits – in Two Days

    Phenomenon: Tel Aviv-based musician and “sampler” extraordinaire, Kutiman (aka Ophir Kutiel) has hit another one out of the park with “Give It Up,” a fully-functioning song in its own right, assembled from hundreds of ameteur and instructional music videos. The Jerusalem-born musical prodigy is best know for his diverse online musical projects. In the latest video, uploaded to YouTube on Sept. 12th, Kutiel thanked most of the musicians and individuals he chose to include in the meticulously-edited clip, which opens with [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada Behind-the-Scenes Reel of Ridley Scott’s Moses Epic Shows Scenes Using 4000 Extras (VIDEO)

    Behind-the-Scenes Reel of Ridley Scott’s Moses Epic Shows Scenes Using 4000 Extras (VIDEO)

    A recently released behind-the-scenes reel of Ridley Scott’s upcoming film Exodus: Gods and Kings shows just how far the director has gone to portray one of the Bible’s most famous narratives. In the clip, which shows scenes involving up to 4,000 extras, the visionary director discusses what drew him to the biblical tale of Moses. “The Moses story was a massive challenge, which I really love. I wanted to explore the complexity of his character and I was stunned by [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity Turner Classic Movies Showcases ‘Broad Sweep’ of the Jewish Experience on Film

    Turner Classic Movies Showcases ‘Broad Sweep’ of the Jewish Experience on Film

    JNS.org – Since 2006, the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) cable and satellite TV network has hosted “The Projected Image,” a month-long showcase examining how different cultural and ethnic groups have been portrayed on the big screen. At last, after previously covering African Americans, Asians, the LGBT community, Latinos, Native Americans, Arabs, and people with disabilities, the annual series is delving into Jewish film this month. “The Projected Image: The Jewish Experience on Film,” whose first segment aired Sept. 2, runs [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity An Inside Look at the Hasidim (REVIEW)

    An Inside Look at the Hasidim (REVIEW)

    The sight of young girls in pinafores and young boys wearing peyos – sidelocks – dangling over their ears is a sure sign that you have entered the enigmatic precincts of the Hasidim – the pious ones. Veteran New York Times journalist Joseph Berger’s new book, THE PIOUS ONES: The World of Hasidim and their Battles with America, takes the reader on a journey into the enclaves where various sects of Jews live a seemingly outmoded way of life in [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity How Jewish Television Pioneer Milton Berle Inspired Modern Comedy Stars

    How Jewish Television Pioneer Milton Berle Inspired Modern Comedy Stars

    JNS.org – Today’s comedy superstars, especially those whose careers are driven by television, may very well owe their success to pioneering Jewish entertainer Milton Berle. Born Mendel Berlinger in Manhattan in 1908, Berle became America’s first small-screen star. Aptly nicknamed “Mr. Television,” he influenced and helped promote the work of hundreds of younger comics. “Milton Berle was deceptively successful and very Jewish,” says Lawrence Epstein, author of The Haunted Smile: The Story of Jewish Comedians in America, published the year [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Jewish ‘Hoops Whisperer’ a Secret Weapon for NBA Stars

    Jewish ‘Hoops Whisperer’ a Secret Weapon for NBA Stars

    JNS.org – Idan Ravin’s friends chipped in to buy him a humble but life-changing bar mitzvah gift—a basketball hoop his father attached to the roof of his garage. Little did his friends know that years later, he would be the personal trainer of National Basketball Association (NBA) stars Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, and Stephen Curry. Ravin’s new book, “The Hoops Whisperer: On the Court and Inside the Head of Basketball’s Best Players,” details his rise from a Jewish upbringing [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.