Last year, I wrote a piece about Iran’s declining influence and power in the Middle East and around the world. With its shrinking export market and a weakened economy, I stand behind my original prediction. But no matter how bad things are getting for the average Iranian, it doesn’t seem like the Ayatollah, Iran’s supreme leader, and his regime are getting the message. Reported and confirmed just hours ago, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is now confident that Iran has drastically increased its nuclear development capabilities, doubling the number of known centrifuges in the country.
When the United States and our allies increased economic sanctions against Iran at the beginning of the summer, it was believed that Iran had stopped its advances on developing nuclear power, developments which are considered a breach of international agreements and the NPT (Non Proliferation Treaty). But after validating claims from the Ayatollah himself, and retrieving satellite picture data, the IAEA has come out with a report this week noting the creation of a whopping 1000 new centrifuges. Since just this past November, the total number of centrifuges, which are devices used to enrich uranium, has quadrupled, the fastest nuclear build up in recent history. But what is even more important is what the centrifuges are creating, because a large number of them are active and producing uranium. Since the beginning of this year alone, Iran has been able to more then double their stockpile of enriched, weapon grade uranium.
With the shocking discovery that Iran has decided to go full steam ahead with its nuclear capability, turning more of it than ever into weapons-grade uranium, the question now is not if Iran really has intends to defy the international community; it clearly does. The real question is what should be the international community’s response to Iran’s complete refusal to listen to their demands. Recently Iran has agreed to hold talks on its work with uranium, but with the recent announcements, the talks have been suspended. With parts of the Middle East in turmoil, Iran has no neighbor that is willing to stand up to its actions, and Israel is the only country in the region that consistently speaks up against the nation.
So, should we attack, or should we not attack? Personally, I believe Iran has the intent to use their uranium stores to build nuclear weapons. It is one thing to enrich uranium to be used as energy, but it is another to take a large percentage of it and turn it in to what can be used a legitimate, capable nuclear weapon. According to the IAEA report and work from the Israel Defense Ministry, after the past three-month surge of creating over 1000 centrifuges, Iran is only 800 centrifuges away from finishing their underground site which is expected to be un-attackable. The “zone of immunity,” as Israeli leaders have called it, is the growing underground site of centrifuges that, once finished, will be seriously difficult to attack. But, at the same time, Iran has only developed one-third of its uranium stores to be weapons grade-ready. So though the stockpiling has increased rapidly, its actual capability to develop nuclear weapons is limited.
But whether their ability to be violent is limited or not, Iran still presents an enormous problem. Not only have they refused to cooperate with the United Nations and the IAEA, they have essentially delivered a diplomatic “slap in the face,” by rapidly increasing their nuclear output. If they were able to create 1000 new centrifuges in three months, it will not yet be winter by the time they finish the final 800. When that occurs and the defense system on the underground site is finished, the United States and her allies will find themselves in trouble. The US has issued another stern warning, but the time for warnings has passed. The US and other Western nations angered by Iran’s actions need to step up, give them a serious ultimatum, and stick to it. Iran has called our bluff, and they were right to do so. Now Iran has a stronger uranium arsenal then ever, and if we are soon unable to even target these enrichment facilities, we will be leaving the world to endure a potentially very dangerous fate. Iran has the intention to develop nuclear weapons, and we need to get serious about stopping them.