How do we know the Iranians are evilly planning to make a nuclear bomb? Well, according to the Washington Post today, we know because they are apparently planning to guard some of their multi-billion dollar investment in a nuclear power program which is theirs by right of international treaty against the paladins of the Bush administration who have continually rattled sabers and refused to take an illegal, pre-emptive war off the table.
The sudden flurry of digging seen in recent satellite photos of a mountainside in central Iran might have passed for ordinary road tunneling. But the site is the back yard of Iran's most ambitious and controversial nuclear facility, leading U.S. officials and independent experts to reach another conclusion: It appears to be the start of a major tunnel complex inside the mountain.That such a rational, self-interested safeguarding of expensive national resources takes place against a background of agitprop story-plants and war hyping from the Cheneyites, their partners in grime at the MeK and their neocon allies, facillitated by stenographers in the media, doesn't enter into it apparently. The reaction from the warmongering punditry is simple and predictable - "how dare the Iranians take steps to reduce the damage an attack would cause, attack them at once!"
The question is, why? Worries have been stoked by the presence nearby of fortified buildings where uranium is being processed. Those structures in turn are now being connected by roads to Iran's nuclear site at Natanz, where the country recently started production of enriched uranium in defiance of international protests.
As a result, photos of the site are being studied by governments, intelligence agencies and nuclear experts, all asking the same question: Is Iran attempting to thwart future military strikes against its nuclear facility by placing key parts of it in underground bunkers?
That's even if there are actually tunnels at all. Sure, it's a reasonable guess but such reasonable guesses from intelligence analysts have been wrong before. Reading carefully, a guess is all it is right now.
The commercial satellite photos, taken on June 11 by the firm DigitalGlobe, show two new roads leading to a construction site on the side of a mountain closest to the nuclear site's southern boundary. Although tunnel entrances are not directly visible, the photos show rocks and debris in large piles near the dig sites. There are no signs of construction in similar photos taken of the area six months ago.So we've got tunnels we don't know for sure are there for a purpose we can only make reasonable guesses at but if they exist then they are likely intended to protect billions in investment from insane warmongers in the Fourth Branch of the U.S. government. Obviously, that proves the bad faith of the Iranian government, because they are trying to protect against an attack...
In a report analyzing the photos, officials of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) compared the new Natanz construction with a tunnel built by Iran inside a mountain near another key nuclear site. That site, located about 80 miles to the south and known as Esfahan, is home to a major nuclear research center and a factory that converts uranium to a form that can be enriched at Natanz.
Iran began the work at Esfahan quietly in 2004, digging a large, two-entrance mountain tunnel that it later acknowledged was meant for nuclear storage. Iran eventually allowed IAEA inspectors to visit the then-empty tunnel. Having separate underground bunkers near both sites would allow Iranian officials to rapidly evacuate sensitive materials to safe storage if an attack were believed to be imminent, Albright, the ISIS president, said.
The intended use of the Natanz tunnel cannot be ascertained from the photos. But "such a tunnel inside a mountain would offer excellent protection from an aerial attack," said the report by ISIS, which produces technical assessments of nuclear programs. "This new facility would be ideal for safely storing" natural and enriched uranium and the specialized equipment needed to make it, ISIS said.
Update The Arms Control Wonk has an excellent annotaed satellite picture and some great analysis. Yes, it looks very like this is a tunnel and it seems a reasonable guess that the purpose is to protect some of Iran's expensive assets in the event of a pre-emptive attack. My opinion that this is the most ludicrous reason ever advanced as to why the Iranians are eevul and require attacking right now still stand.
And while we're on the subject, does anyone know what the WaPo article is talking about in its last graf?
In April, Iran unilaterally withdrew from an international treaty that would have required it to publicly disclose design plans for any new nuclear-related construction. The ISIS report said that Iran nonetheless "should disclose to the [IAEA] any activity in this area related to its efforts at the nearby Natanz site or another nuclear purpose."As far as I can remember, or tell by a search of news reports from April, this wasn't any kind of treaty obligation but instead was part of a voluntary additional protocol. If so then far from being a binding agreement it was, you know, voluntary and additional to the NPT. As in not a treaty at all. Nice bit of stenography, that, especially when you consider that the loudest complaining nations - all nuclear powers - wrote themselves a get-out clause where they undergo no IAEA inspections whatsoever even under the terms of the NPT.