Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Has the Ayatollah's Nuke Factory Hit a New Snag?

Could be:
Washington diplomats and American nuclear experts suspect Iran's illicit quest for a nuclear weapon, still suffering from a cyberattack of unknown origins last year, has hit a new set of production and engineering troubles.
At Iran's main nuclear facility in Natanz, home to cascading centrifuges required to make the enriched uranium needed for nuclear weapons, output has slowed dramatically, according to two new reports from the Institute for Science and International Security, or ISIS. For the first time, Iran's centrifuges have seen their average output decrease.

(Click here and here for the ISIS reports.)

David Albright, former United Nations weapons inspector at ISIS, said it's a sign that not only was Iran hurt by the computer virus known as Stuxnet, but that aggressive United Nations sanctions to block the flow of vital weapons-making material into Iran are starting to have a real impact.

"Iran probably cannot build more than a certain number of these first-generation centrifuges. There's some parts in them that require high-tech steel and a particular form, and it looks like Iran cannot get any more," Albright told Fox News. "The major result is that the output at the Natanz enrichment site is actually decreasing."...
Great news! I think. Maybe not...

1 comment:

Carlos Perera said...

Though I have nothing but the greatest admiration for the Israeli(?) or American(?) cyberwarriors who have managed to introduce viruses into the computerized feedback and control systems for the ultra-high-speed centrifuges that refine Iran's low-grade fuel into weapons-grade uranium, we would do well to remember that their ingenuity only buys us a bit more time. Even if Iran is reduced to pre-computerized refinement technology, well, that is what the U. S. had when they built the first A-bombs in the Manhattan project. Those physicists, engineers, and technicians had to make do with nothing more advanced than slide rules--I still keep my old ones, by the way, they don't require any kind of plug-in to a vulnerable electrical grid--or, at best, electromechanical calculators not much different (except for the power source) than the ones the sages of antiquity put together (e.g., the Antikythera mechanism) . . . yet they built not one but two different types of fission bombs (one U-235 based, the other Pu based), all in about three years. Betcha any amount of Canadian currency that we couldn't do it in that short a time today, even with all of our fancy-dancy electronic gizmos!

But I digress, as I often do . . . the point is, buying time is only valuable if you do something to stick it definitively to the enemy during the time you've bought. Otherwise, you'd be better off suing for terms while the enemy's still in a good mood . . . once he has to breach your city wall (metaphorically in this case), chances are he will not be merciful. (Not that the crew our side's up against is too big on the mercy thing to begin with.)