Iran says it has gotten a big step closer to becoming a nuclear power:
Iran trumpeted advances in nuclear technology on Wednesday, citing new uranium enrichment centrifuges and domestically made reactor fuel, in a move abetting a drift towards confrontation with the West over its disputed atomic ambitions.
The announcement underlined Iranian determination to pursue a nuclear program its Islamic clerical rulers see as a pillar of power, protection and prestige despite Western sanctions that are inflicting increasing damage on Iran’s oil-based economy.
The US and Europe’s sanctions are biting the Iranian economy, but not evidently slowing the nuclear train down — Iran even says it has tamed Stuxnet, the computer virus that temporarily disabled some of Iran’s nuclear equipment. So the West is looking at unleashing a never-used-before sanction against the mullahcracy:
The Obama administration wants Iran evicted from SWIFT, an independent financial clearinghouse that is crucial to the country’s overseas oil sales. That would leapfrog the current slow-pressure campaign of sanctions aimed at persuading Iran to drop what the U.S. and its allies contend is a drive toward developing and building nuclear weapons. It also perhaps would buy time for the U.S. to persuade Israel not to launch a pre-emptive military strike on Iran this spring.The last-resort financial effort suggests the U.S. and Europe are grasping for ways to show immediate results because economic sanctions have so far failed to force Iran back to nuclear talks.
But such a penalty could send oil prices soaring when many of the world’s economies are still frail. It also could hurt ordinary Iranians and undercut the reputation of SWIFT, a banking hub used by virtually every nation and corporation around the world. The organization’s full name is the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications.
Iran is already signalling its response: Terror attacks from India to Thailand, and probably inside the EU and the US. Hizballah isn’t operating in Mexico just to take advantage of the climate.
In the face of all this, President Obama stubbornly scuttled the XL Pipeline and is reportedly cutting the US nuclear arsenal and conventional forces drastically, while keeping domestic spending higher than ever (and gutting Social Security, via the unfunded payroll tax cut extension). We’re on an unsustainable path led by an irresponsible president, who is picking political fights over contraception to smokescreen his massive, history-changing geopolitical disasters.