Monday, September 03, 2007

Spinning The IAEA

By Cernig

As every media outlet and hawkish pundit under the sun exhorts us to believe President Ahmin-nutjob of Iran when he says that Iran has more centrifuges up and working than the IAEA saw, but not to believe him when he says Iran's nuclear program is entirely peaceful - it's worth reading an actual nuclear expert for a sense of perspective.

Cue Gordon Prather

the reality is the IAEA has once again verified to all IAEA members and NPT-signatories "the non-diversion of the declared nuclear materials" by Iran. Furthermore, Iran and the IAEA Secretariat have just announced an important agreed "time table" for "resolution" by year’s end of "all outstanding questions" relevant to the implementation of Iran’s Safeguards Agreement. And even some "questions" that aren’t relevant.

...So, back to the "timetable" for "resolution" by year’s end of "all outstanding questions" relevant to the implementation of Iran’s Safeguards Agreement.

As to "outstanding" issues that are relevant to Iran’s Safeguards agreement, they agreed to try to resolve questions concerning (a) the lab experiments involving the production of minute quantities of Plutonium and Polonium-210 and (b) the source of the enriched-uranium micro-contamination found at "a technical University in Tehran.

The Iranians agreed to try to document all attempts to procure, manufacture and operate so-called P2 (second generation) gas centrifuges.
Also, even though Iran’s Safeguards Agreement doesn’t require it, Iran also agreed to try to resolve apparent inconsistencies relating to a brochure, apparently supplied by Pakistanis, gratis, found in Iran’s files and subsequently placed under seal by the IAEA, which included instructions – which the Iranians claim they never used – on how to cast hemispherical shells of uranium.

Finally, the IAEA agreed to provide Iran with access to the "documentation" it has in its possession – apparently obtained in 2004 by the CIA from the "smoking laptop" and "leaked" to the IAEA in 2005 – regarding (a) the Green Salt Project (b) high explosive testing and (c) missile re-entry vehicle studies, all alleged programs which the Cheney Cabal alleges are related to Iran’s nuclear programs.

So, if by year-end the IAEA Secretariat is satisfied that Iran is in complete compliance with its Safeguards Agreement and so reports to the IAEA Board, then how can the Cheney Cabal possibly "justify" an attack on Iran’s Safeguarded nuclear facilities?

Oh, well, they’ll think of something.

And Dr. Jeffrey Lewis:
We know that Iran operated 8 cascades between 18 April- 19 August. That is seventeen weeks, 119 days or 2856 hours.

Eight cascades, fed 70 grams of hex per hour, should have consumed 1,600 kg of hex.

Assume the four additional cascades began operating on May 13 (about 14 weeks). The additional four cascades should have consumed another 650 kg, for a grand total of 2,250 kilograms.

Instead, Iran consumed 690 kilograms of hex during that period, for an operating efficiency of about 30 percent.

That’s very low.

What is very odd that is that 260 of those kilograms were consumed between 15 April-22 May.

As a result, all twelve cascades consumed only 430 kilograms in the not quite 13 weeks that followed. Twelve cascades, over the course of 89 days or 2136 hours, should consume almost 1800 kg of hex. That means Iran’s centrifuges operated close to one-quarter of their efficiency, a substantial decrease from the relatively continuous operation between 15 April – 22 May (about half their maximum feed).

Are the Iranians husbanding that Chinese hex?

Do the centrifuges with indigenously produced components not work right?

Is Iran holding back for political reasons?
Far from being a clear and immenent threat to anyone, the Iranian nuclear program is, so far, proving entirely peaceful at every turn. Further, the enrichment plant running at such reduced efficienvy has a knock-on effect on any estimates of when Iran might be able to make enough highly enriched uranium (enriched to 80% rather than the 3.5% they've managed so far) should their intention actually be to make a bomb.

That's the perspective I'd like to see in the media more often, as the narrative of a rush to Iranian nukes is, while compelling for news-making purposes, quite untrue.

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