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 LeBron James’ New Coach Shaped by Summer on Kibbutz and Jewish ‘Life Lessons’

    LeBron James’ New Coach Shaped by Summer on Kibbutz and Jewish ‘Life Lessons’

    JNS.org – Influenced by his Jewish upbringing and a summer on a kibbutz, basketball coach David Blatt is embarking on his highest-profile challenge yet: coaching LeBron James, the four-time National Basketball Association (NBA) Most Valuable Player who has made waves for returning to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. After guiding Israel’s storied Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball franchise to its 51st Israeli league championship and 6th Euroleague title this past season, Blatt landed the Cavaliers head-coaching job in June. Just weeks later, [...]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity Young Syrian Jewish Restauranteur Continues a Family Legacy

    Young Syrian Jewish Restauranteur Continues a Family Legacy

    JNS.org – At the turn of the century, a young Jewish immigrant arrived in New York. So begins the history of many American Jewish families. It is 27-year-old Albert Allaham’s story, too, with a few unusual twists. Albert’s “century” is the 21st—he arrived almost 100 years after the massive waves of European Jewish immigration. Rather than coming from a small town along the Danube river, his shtetl was Damascus. His first American business was not a pushcart on the Lower East [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity A Holistic Look at the Rebbe’s Life and Career (REVIEW)

    A Holistic Look at the Rebbe’s Life and Career (REVIEW)

    Did you know that in the entire Bible, only one birthday is mentioned and it is that of Pharaoh? And did you know that according to some scientists, by accepting Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, it is impossible to prove or disprove that the sun is the gravitational center of our solar system? In his new book, REBBE, best-selling author Joseph Telushkin reveals many surprising and sometimes shocking details as he chronicles the life and teachings of the charismatic Rabbi [...]

    Read more →
  • Food Mitzvos New Jerusalem Eatery’s Uniform Pricing Seeks to ‘Help People Make It’

    New Jerusalem Eatery’s Uniform Pricing Seeks to ‘Help People Make It’

    JNS.org – Omelet sandwich: 5 shekels. Iced coffee: 5 shekels. Tuna sandwich: 5 shekels. Fresh-squeezed orange juice: 5 shekels. Cheese bureka: 5 shekels. There’s plenty more on the Cofizz menu, but you get the idea. Dani Mizrahi and Amir Amshalm, two Israeli men in their early 30s, asked themselves: Why not launch a take-out food joint in busy neighborhoods around Jerusalem where everything—and that means everything—goes for five shekels, or about $1.50. They’d seen the concept take off in Tel Aviv, where [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel New Primetime Drama ‘Tyrant’ Filmed Entirely in Israel (VIDEO)

    New Primetime Drama ‘Tyrant’ Filmed Entirely in Israel (VIDEO)

    The new FX Network drama Tyrant was shot entirely in Israel, just 10 miles north of Tel Aviv, Bloomberg News reported last Tuesday. Tyrant follows the life of an Arab dictator’s second son Barry, played by Adam Rayner, who reluctantly returns home to the Middle Eastern nation of his birth to join the family business away from his suburban life in America. The elaborate set production for the primetime drama included a crew of 300 and a reported cost of over $3 million [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Supermodel: Jewish Mothers Are Constantly Trying to Set Me Up With Their Sons

    Supermodel: Jewish Mothers Are Constantly Trying to Set Me Up With Their Sons

    Skokie, Il-born 25-year-old Erin Heatherton (Erin Heather Bubley) is rocking the modeling world. And in a new interview accompanying a cover spread for Miami’s Ocean Drive magazine, she says Jewish moms are “constantly trying to set her up with their sons.” Imagine that – who would have thought? “The moms, they’re doing what they do. It doesn’t matter what country they live in, what city – grandmothers, too,” she admitted. “But I’m probably going to do that too one day.” Heatherton was [...]

    Read more →
  • Education Israel First Ever: Turkish Academics to Visit Israel Holocaust Museum for Seminar

    First Ever: Turkish Academics to Visit Israel Holocaust Museum for Seminar

    Some 15 Turkish university professors and lecturers will take part in a first of its kind seminar at Holocaust museum Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies starting next week. The trip is especially significant as Holocaust denial is rampant in the Arab world. A Palestinian professor was recently forced to resign after he led a trip to the Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz. Participants in the week-long program at Yad Vashem will experience in-depth tours of the museum’s archives and [...]

    Read more →
  • Israel Music Guns N’ Roses Guitarist Rocks Solo Acoustic Version of Israeli National Anthem – Hatikva (VIDEO)

    Guns N’ Roses Guitarist Rocks Solo Acoustic Version of Israeli National Anthem – Hatikva (VIDEO)

    Ok, fans, question time. What do: Guns ‘n’ Roses shred-meister guitarist, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (aka Ronald Jay Blumenthal), “Hard Rock Hotel”, “Las Vegas” and Israel’s ”Hatikva” (The Hope) national anthem… all have in common? I know, you’re probably thinking, “Hmm, ‘One of these things is not like the other,’ would fit in here,” right? Um, no, turns out. Caught backstage by blogger Darren Garnick at the swanky Vegas gig in early June, Thal, acoustic guitar in hand, fretted out a sweetly melodic [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.