The script has already been written. The Iranian government is closely following a plotline in its quest to become the next nuclear weapons-armed state. And like most cliché thriller movies, the twists are predictable and yet a gullible bunch continues to fall for it.
The first part of the script calls for developing the building blocks for a nuclear weapon while claiming such work is for a domestic nuclear energy program, completely in line with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Most of Iran’s work here can be done legally, although in an effort to speed up the process, the regime has been working on the “trigger” for nuclear explosions and long-range ballistic missiles, and constructing covert enrichment facilities, like the one in Qom that can house only 3,000 centrifuges — far from the 50,000 needed for energy but good enough for building the fuel for a bomb.
Heck, they’re even permitted to build implosion devices minus the fissile core and are studying the use of EMP strikes that can disable the American power grid instantly with few fingerprints being left behind. Working in this way allows for minimal incriminating traces to be found, giving countries like Russia and China maximum room to delay and demand higher levels of proof before supporting any meaningful reprisal.
The words of Iranian officials expose this thinly concealed strategy. In his book Countdown to Crisis, Ken Timmerman quotes Homayoun Vahdati, a scientific advisor to then-President Rafsanjani, as saying on January 27, 1992, “We should like to acquire the technical know-how and the industrial facilities required to manufacture nuclear weapons, just in case we need them. This does not mean that we currently want to build them or that we have changed our defense strategy to include a nuclear program.”
There you have it. On top of the covert construction of uranium enrichment facilities, the link to Syria’s nuclear weapons program, the long history of concealing virtually everything related to its nuclear “energy” program, and having even the head of the IAEA saying its dealings with Iran have hit a “dead end” due to its inability to clarify several discrepancies in the Iranians’ story, we have a high-level Iranian official explaining their plan all the way back in 1992.
Act two starts with the regime announcing that the increased security threat it faces is forcing it to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 90 days and build nuclear weapons, as permitted by article ten of the treaty. At this point, the Iranians will be ready to quickly roll out not one, but perhaps several nuclear weapons. John Noonan writes that Iran’s investment “far exceeds what’s needed to turn on the lights, but it’s also beyond what’s needed for a basic nuclear weapons program.” He also notes that Iran’s program is a lot more extensive than that of North Korea, and that “Iran is pumping billions more into building and protecting triple the number of facilities required to build a basic nuclear weapon.”
Maybe they’ll say that bullying rhetoric from Israel and the U.S. is forcing them to “change their defense strategy,” as Vahdati put it. Or, in a crafty use of irony, the regime could use an Israeli strike to prevent them from obtaining nuclear weapons to justify obtaining nuclear weapons. “We were innocent and didn’t feel like we needed them when Israel bombed us, but now we do need them after faced with such aggression,” the regime will try to cry out.
The attacked Iranians will win the sympathy of the Muslim world and may even offer to give up their weapons if Israel also agrees to do so, among other concessions. And you can bet there will be those in the West that will buy the line that this wasn’t the plan all along, will blame Israeli and Western aggression for Iran’s decision to make the bomb, and will argue that the only solution is to make the Iranian government feel less threatened.
President Ahmadinejad is already laying the groundwork to justify the future construction of nuclear weapons, even while insisting that is not his current intent. In an interview with reporter Ann Curry in September, Ahmadinejad gave his typical answer in reply to the typical question about whether Iran is trying to get nuclear weapons.
“We don’t need nuclear weapons. Without such weapons we are able to defend ourselves,” he said. Curry pressed him on his answer, warning him that “people will remark that you did not say no.” “You can take from this whatever you want, madam,” he answered.
The script has already been written. And the ending isn’t good.