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August 5, 2013 10:08 am

Report: New Nuclear Path in Iran Increases Likelihood of Israeli Strike

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

Iran could begin producing weapons-grade plutonium by next summer, using nuclear technology more easily exposed to foreign attacks and thus increasing the likelihood of an Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities, US and European officials told The Wall Street Journal Monday.

According to The WSJ report, the West believes Iran could use the development of a heavy water nuclear reactor to produce plutonium for a bomb. The heavy-water reactor is an easier target to hit than the underground facilities that currently house Iran’s uranium-enrichment facilities.

Iran has notified the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, that it plans to make the reactor—located in the northwestern city of Arak—operational by the second half of 2014 and could begin testing it later this year.

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Spent fuel from the reactor contains plutonium—which can serve as the raw material for an explosive device. India and Pakistan have built plutonium-based bombs, as has North Korea.

Once completed, US and European officials believe the facility will be capable of producing enough plutonium for two nuclear bombs a year.

Iran denies it is seeking nuclear weapons and claims the Arak facility will produce isotopes used in medical treatments, U.N. officials have said.

“There’s no question that the reactor and its heavy water are more vulnerable targets than the enrichment plants,” Gary Samore, who served as President Barack Obama’s top adviser on nuclear issues during his first term, told The WSJ. “This could be another factor in [Benjamin] Netanyahu’s calculations in deciding how long to wait before launching military operations.”

Any Israeli strike on the reactor complex, said current and former U.S. officials, would likely have to take place before Tehran introduces nuclear materials into the facility, because of the potential for a vast environmental disaster that a strike could cause.

Netanyahu has repeatedly pledged to target Iran’s nuclear facilities if international diplomatic efforts fail. Appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation” in July he warned Iran not to move forward with the commissioning of the Arak reactor.

“They’re pursuing an alternate route of plutonium…to build a nuclear bomb,” the Israeli leader said on July 14. “They haven’t yet reached it, but they’re getting closer to it. And they have to be stopped.”

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  • tom p

    All these comments about Palestine and Israel are a waste of time. The fact is that The Jews in the US run the US government and it gets worse every day. It will not change. It’s insanity and it will lead to disaster sooner or later. The only question is, how bad.

    • Michael Koenigsberg

      Pardon me, Tom P that is the most ludicrous statement ihave heard in a long time. Put yourself at the head of the Anti Semites.

  • Vivienne Leijonhufvud

    May I say Mr. Julian Clovelly it is refreshing to read a logical and rational approach to the problems within the Middle East. A little less reference to ancient stories would be far more helpful. Already Internationally around the world we are all suffering from beliefs of those fixated on the Koran, largely responsible for many crisis in the middle east. One group of people insisting Koranic mythology is quite enough. Israel is a nation with many different sects including humanists and atheists. The main objective for the future must be peace and economic growth forward into the 21sst century. central Asia places too reliance on Opium farming, sold to purchase more weapons of destruction. We all have to confront,the level of drug abuse world wide, which, is perpetuated by opium and other drug farming in Central Asia. Primitive communities are aggressive, uneducated and easily manipulated by corrupt leaders who send money offshore for their own use. Central Asia needs bringing into the 21st Century, her corrupt Leaders removed. Secular Leaders democratically elected by an educated society. Some of central Asia and the Middle East is so far behind, strong leadership as is arising in Egypt, is the only way forward. In the meantime Israel must have the right to defend her borders from the hoards of uneducated radicals,including so called Palestinians, who in Gaza, have 60,000 rockets trained on Southern Israel, and which during Ramadan at least two rockets every other day have been fired. Iran is driven by medieval mythology,to most of the civilized world is irrational. Iran appears to be incapable of understanding the devastation nuclear bombs dropped anywhere can have on environment, future well being of all nations including her own. Present day Iranians I would believe have no concept of what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. At the moment we have a five year old driving a ten tonne truck, no knowledge of devastation caused.

    • Julian Clovelly

      My parents were English people living in London. As such they were amongst the very first people to be targeted by modern missiles with explosive warheads. The V1s and V2s were a part of their daily life. My mother was on the way to a cafe for a cup of tea, with my two elder brothers, both babies in a pram, when she was delayed by a neighbour. Around thirty people in and about the cafe were killed when a doodlebug struck it. I grew up near those ruins, and the little plaque on the wall.

      I am horrified to know that in the 21st century so many families are targeted by such weapons – or threatened by even more devilish devices. It woud be a dishonour to my father and mother to say that such behaviour was ever acceptable or that one had no right to defend oneself or responsibility to protect ones family against such attacks.

      For this I need no religion. I grieve for all the people of the Middle East and dream of a time when they are able to work together, drawing from that gentle hospitality that I believe to be their true character throughout the region.

  • As I have written, this is a ‘do or die ‘ moment for Netanyahu – http://adinakutnicki.com/2013/08/01/pm-netanyahus-do-or-die-moment-has-arrived-irans-genocidal-program-too-little-too-late-commentary-by-adina-kutnicki/

    There is NO middle ground, NO way around it….

    Adina Kutnicki, Israel http://adinakutnicki.com/about/

  • Israel might have to use tactical nuclear weapons to take this facilities out. The Jews must survive. Also the Israelians.

  • The Arak IR-40 heavy water reactor in Iran may very well produce Plutonium as a by-product of its reaction but it still has to be concentrated to 93% to become a bomb with a chain reaction. If the Plutonium would be concentrated it would have to processed by high-velocity centrifuges but Iran does not have such centrifuges. Iran could not make a bomb under such conditions, neither a fission, nor a fusion bomb. Nuclear power is a natural choice for energy production since there is no refinery for oil in Iran and energy sustainability requires some other source of energy. dr. Abraham Weizfeld B.Sc., M.S., Ph.D. cand.

    • artcohn

      The US made a Plutonium N-Bomb in the 1940’s. It was made without modern centrifuge technology. It was the type of device first tested at Alamogordo, and then dropped on Nagasaki. The advantage of the Plutonium route to an N-Bomb is that the Plutonium can be separated from the U238 by chemical reactions, while U235 can not.

  • Joy

    I like the way the US and the Eu make estimations about an Israeli attack on Iran – what about the USA? Are they are out of the equation – is Israel always the one who has to do the dirty for all.

  • As a nation whose existence is always threatened, and seen as a threat, Israel has the right to self defence. This is the only nation the creator gave territory on earth.

    • Julian Clovelly

      I am sorry Augustine but that kind of mythology is dangerous in that it invokes similar but conflicting mythology in potential enemies. The history of the Middle East, and for much of the world, has for far too long been about getting over our variously viewed past. We need to look forward and not backward. Religion’s focus on a largely imagined past, instead of seeking to share a future, is destroying our world. it prevents us making the changes that could bring peace and stability.

      Sympathy for the situation of the peoples of the Middle East is not based on the supposed validity of any of their claims of exclusive privileged treatment by the Creator. All religions are ultimately in part disguised land claims. I am sorry that such a statement may offend or upset you because I understand that the Judaic land claim is so central to your religion – you see it as a Divine gift to your people. But so do other religions with respect to their claim. As an outsider, humanity’s demand is that I give credit to none of them, or equal credit to all.

      The solution lies in getting over the religions that bind us to hostility towards each other, and excuse our not sharing the world G-d gave to us all. It is in reconciliation that we will all come closer to the Divine. But it is hard – I do know. The books we like to believe bring us life so often are really killing us. It is sad, very sad.

      I don’t really expect Algemeiner to publish this – but I want at least one of their journalists to read it. The right to self defence remains unquestioned in all this, for that is based on humanity, on the realities of physical organic life, not “theology”. You need to understand that about those who care for the peoples of the region – all people. I fear the suggestion might shock you even more – but it was never more important to reopen the Talmud or write and endorse a new one – to bring new commentary to the fore, to reassess the past and its beliefs. If Judaism could do it, it would be an example to all that our consciousness must evolve.

      Peace.

      • Martin H. Chopp

        Julian
        You’re living in a pipedream. It may be political on the outside, but the underlying premise is religion. There isn’t a day that goes by that the archaeologists don’t find artifacts that reinforce the existence of events described in the Old Testament. There was no such thing as PLO until Arafat invented it in order to attempt solidifying the Arabs. The Arabs were a nomadic people for generations while under the Ottoman Empire and thereafter. Very few owned any property. The problem started when Winston Churcil gave over 75% of what was supposed to be part of Palestine, to the Arabs to set up Trans-Jordan (now Jordan). For whatever reason, the Arabs did not go to Jordan, and therein lies the problem. We would not have had this problem if the surrounding Arab countries would have opened their gates and permitted the Arab refugees to immigrate into the respective countries. That would have left the remaining some 20% of the Mandate to the Jews to set up their own State. There would not have been a PLO and there would not have been a Palestine and all its problems.
        We would all be living in Peace. Unfortunately we can not reverse history and have to accept the measley amount of territory that Israel now controls.

      • Jacobite

        With all due respect, how lovely it would be just to dismiss the the things in life we dislike because we simply don’t like what we see. Probably like you I begun disliking religion because it didn’t, suit my personal agenda.
        But to hold such a view as yours assumes that you have proven beyond all doubt that claims made by religions to be incorrect.
        I have spent 24 years studying the claims, past,present and near future and like it or not I haven’t found anything that shows it to be an incorrect account. In fact it points to exactly what troubles the world today, not one fact missing.
        What I have discovered is that there are many translations and understandings of Religion that are simply wrong and religion in the wrong hands is a dangerous thing, but kept its original and intended form make’s Mr Augustines comments correct.
        What the scriptures do is challenge it’s words and see if what it’s saying is right or wrong, should you ever plum the depth and meanings of its
        Message then you will see who’s pulling the wool. Religion will eventually consume us all whither we understand or not, simply dismissing it is no answer.

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