Bleak Assessment

It was just a year or two ago that Iran copped to having 3,000 nuclear centrifuges. My, how they’ve grown:

Iran is now running 7,000 uranium enrichment centrifuges, a senior official said on Thursday, an announcement likely to increase Western concerns about the Islamic Republic’s disputed nuclear plans.

Gholamreza Aghazadeh, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, also said it had obtained the technology to produce more “accurate” centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium.

This is a tough one.

I used to think that we should worry less about a nuclear-armed Iran than about a nuclear-armed Iran led by the mad mullahs. And the mullahs have spent much of the last 10-15 years enjoying wild unpopularity in their own country. With enough subtle pushes, I thought, the students would rise up and the mullahs would fall down and the nuclear situation would sort itself out.

But we haven’t pushed and the students haven’t shoved and the mullahs have proven adept at turning their unpopularity into something of a winning popularity contest. Go figure.

We can tolerate the mullahs. We can handle a nuclear-armed Iran. But nuclear-armed mullahs? Within years (if not months) we’d be looking at the Saudis, the Emirates, and possibly even Bahrain with nukes. And that’s assuming the Israelis don’t preemptively turn the whole wretched region into glass first.

We’ve got trouble.