Most of Iran’s Real Nuclear Program is Still Hidden

The visual above summarizes the main problem with Iran’s nuclear program- “What You See” is definitely not “What You Get”.

It doesn’t really matter if you are for or against Iran developing Nuclear weapons, one thing is undisputable: Iran is trying very hard to hide parts of its Nuclear program from the eyes of the world making whoever did expect transparency even more suspicious.

This lack of transparency is manifested in three main strategies: going underground, denying access, developing multiple sites, issuing repeated denials and feigning ignorance.

  • ·         Underground: Iran has literally buried, at great expense, some of its Nuclear plants underground – this includes all of the Fordow plant and part of the Natanz plant. According to the latest IAEA report, Iran is investing heavily on increasing the number of centrifuges for enriching Uranium in Natanz (350% increase over 5 years to 10,500) and Fordow [400% increase over the last 10 months (!) to 2,800]. These centrifuges are churning our enriched Uranium increasing Iran’s 20% enriched Uranium, according to the latest IAEA report, to 232.8 kg – enough for one atomic bomb when enriched to 90% – and growing.
  • ·         Access Denied: IAEA inspectors are being denied access to the Parchin military site for the past year. There have been numerous leaks which suggest that Parchin is being used as a site to test Nuclear weapon capabilities such as designing and testing nuclear warhead components. Of course, Iran has denied these allegations but then again, since access is denied, no one really knows. What we do know, from satellite surveillance cameras is that a major clean-up is being taken place in Parchin as can be seen in these pictures. 
  • Multiple Sites:  To date, Iran has 19 Nuclear facilities: 4 Uranium mines, 1 light water reactor, 2 heavy water reactors, 6 “research” reactors/facilities and 6 Uranium processing/enrichment plants. All of these, according to Tehran, are meant simply to create electricity for the Iranian people. The fact that Iran has no lack of energy as a result of sitting on one of the largest oil fields in the world is, obviously, “irrelevant” according to Tehran.
  • Denials & Ignorance: Whenever the IAEA points to discrepancies and violations, Tehran usually answers with simple denials. This is not a new phenomenon: all the way back in 2005, Ali Larijani, the current head of Parliament set the tone by announcing that  “It (Nuclear program) is part of meeting our electricity needs; it is not a secret issue.” Today, all the Iranian leaders have joined Supreme Leader in denying a military aspect to the Nuclear program by simply calling it a “sin”. Added to the denials are repeated shrugs of feigned ignorance. When reminded that NPT rules do not allow for heavy water plants, enriching up to 20% or complete transparency, Tehran simply shrugs these allegations aside. Just as they will probably deny this new diagram that has emerged, showing calculations of an atomic explosion. On top of all of this is the recently leaked document which shows Iran had simulated the “nuclear expected yield” of a potential nuclear weapon. Indeed, the IAEA had confirmed the existence of such documents.

    Iran’s nuclear explosive yield calculation

Whatever the strategies, the results remain the same – much of Iran’s nuclear program is still shrouded in secrecy causing quite a few world leaders to come to the conclusion that Iran is definitely lying about its program and that it is working hard to build a Nuclear bomb. This is obviously bad news for Israel and its Western allies who will not tolerate a Nuclear Iran, knowing full well that unlike other nuclear powers, Iran’s fundamentalist regime might decide to actually use such a bomb on its arch-enemy, Israel. To make matters worse, Iran makes no secret about transferring weapons and nuclear technology to terrorist groups such as Hamas, opening the door for the possibility of creating “dirty bombs” that can be transported in a briefcase.

Over the past year, the IAEA, the UN, the EU and the P5+1 have been trying to force Iran to “walk the talk” and keep its program peaceful. Sanctions, summits, warnings and cajoling have been stubbornly met with less transparency and more denials. Talks with Iran usually end in stalemates with promises to resolve these issues in the future and in the meantime, time is definitely on Iran’s side.

Now, Iran is trying to forge ahead with a deal which will “cap” its program to enriching up to 20%  and not more. This might sound like a good deal to people who do not understand that reaching 20% enriched Uranium is actually 90% of the effort needed to create 90% enriched Uranium required to make a Nuclear bomb. Giving Iran leeway to enrich up to 20% is tantamount to giving Tehran a green light to build a bomb beyond prying eyes.

And if you think that the situation in Iran is scary now because of the lack of transparency, think about how you will feel once Iran is strong enough to unveil its Nuclear bomb/s.

5 essential facts you should know about the Iranian nuclear program

In the last week or so we have witnessed many turmoil’s in Middle-Eastern affairs including yet another confrontation in the Gaza strip, a new uprising in Egypt and the continued onslaught of civilians in Syria. However, while the above events have had differing degrees of exposure in the media, an extremely important event- the publication of the IAEA safeguard report on Iran, had passed relatively unnoticed.

This largely-ignored document had expressed much concern about the Iranian nuclear program. Specifically, the document emphasized 5 main points of concern:

  1. Iran had significantly increased its number of centrifuges since the last  IAEA report and had made significant progress in its next generation centrifuge program. Indeed, there is wide concern that Iran may be planing to deploy newly developed centrifuges in a secret facility.
  2. A nuclear spill occurred in an Iranian uranium conversion facility.
  3. Iran continued to sanitize the suspected military-aligned nuclear facility in Parchin.
  4. The IAEA cannot verify whether Iran completely implements NPT safeguards.
  5. There seems to be little hope for a structured agreement that will resolve the world’s concern about the possible military-aligned nature of Iran’s nuclear program.

Although the issues of Gaza, Egypt and Syria should not be neglected, the issue of Iran’s worrying nuclear program should not be forgotten either. Indeed, both Hamas and Syria are allies of Iran, and much of the happenings in both Gaza and Damascus can be linked in some way or another to the Iranian nuclear program. Furthermore, the possible nuclear armament of Iran could have major destabilizing effects on the region, possibly causing a regional war that would dwarf the amount of casualties seen throughout the Syrian civil war and operation pillar of defense. Moreover, with the alliances made by different states, a regional conflict could easily ignite into a world-wide conflict.

The worrying IAEA report leads no room for doubt- the issue of the Iranian nuclear program should be left in the media’s spotlight as long as there is no agreement settling concerns about its program.

Bias and concern – IAEA Report on Iranian press

The IAEA quarterly report published last Friday shed a little light on Iran’s progress towards nuclear capacities, and was mainly a prelude to set the ground for the upcoming talks in December. But while no conclusions were drawn yet, UN officials and commentators made it very clear that the trend reflected in the report is worrying. AFP qouted Yukio Amano, head of the IAEA, saying that “The standoff on Iran’s nuclear program is worrying”.

“… Yakio Amano’s comments came as the International Atomic Energy Agency  (IAEA) warned that Tehran was on the cusp of being able to triple output of nuclear material that, if further treated, could be used in the core of a bomb.

‘The situation is worrying but it is important to continue to seek a  diplomatic solution’, Amano told reporters after talks with French President Francois Hollande.”

Nonetheless, Tehran News reports via Fars news agency with a main title quoting Iran’s envoy  Soltaniyeh declaring that “The agency’s report once again confirmed that Iran’s nuclear activities, including enrichment, are peaceful, and it conveys an important message to the international community”. Somehow in this report Amano’s clearly concerned remark is completely ignored. This sort of bias mostly discredits Iranian press as playing for the hands of the regime in power, and makes it harder to trust any of their reports on problematic issues such as the nuclear case.

Another Fars news item quotes Soltaniyeh “urging technical talks with the IAEA, politics aside”- But fails to mention the dominant, annd highly political, involvement of China and Russia in this context. IAEA chief Amano’s declaration that diplomatic negotiations must continue cannot be taken out of this context. The only reason internal debate within the UN security council was stopped is the opposition coming from Russia, China and the non-aligned countries. This sort of veto makes it almost impossible for the IAEA to create a serious debate within the UN and leaves the agency with hardly any tools other then continuous talks.

November IAEA report: Ghosts of Violations Past

Another IAEA report regarding Iran’s nuclear progress is coming up this Friday  and while not much is known to date about the contents of the expected document, several leaks indicate that there will be no big surprises in it, but more of Iran’s steady, determined pursuit on it’s way to full capability. What’s to be expected? More of the same, at a faster pace. We’ll be examining the new information in light of our previous research of the matter, which is as always available for free use Here.

Iran’s pursuit inevitably includes repeated violations of UN guidelines and agreements. According to AFP:

“Iran is on the threshold of being able to significantly ramp up production at its most controversial nuclear plant, diplomats expect the UN nuclear agency to say in a new report on Friday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will outline that despite sanctions, Iran’s engineers have now fully fitted out the Fordo enrichment facility, dug into a mountain near the holy city of Qom.”

Sanction Breaches – Experts and Leaders Respond

As part of our follow up on European companies which breach the EU’s sanctions upon Iran (e.g. Shell and Deutsche Bank), we have asked for responses on the matter from some leading European and World-Wide figures on twitter. The twitter discussion included responses from EU parliamentarians, politicians from the impending negotiation delegation to Iran, publicists and web influencers.

The opinions expressed by these figures vary (as they should), however, it is possible to draw a general conclusion from the responses- defining sanctions on one hand while tolerating repeated violations on the other, is the worst possible course of action. While ethical aspects of the sanctions should be reviewed, the truth remains that once they are imposed they should be applied consistently to ensure maximum effect and minimum pain to civilians. The answer to the often asked question; “Why don’t we see unequivocal effect of sanctions for the last few decades?” isn’t necessarily as simplistic as “because sanctions don’t work“. It may be  “because they are not constructed and executed effectively“.
The German vice president of the EU Parliament and delegation to Iran member, Alex Alvaro, unequivocally stated that


A further member of the delegation, Italian Mario Securria, replied that

And added in reference to the expected nature of breaching punishments that

Former Secretary of Australian Departments of Defence and Primary Industries & Energy, Paul Barrett, expressed his doubts of the European dedication to the sanctions:

Writer and Publicist Joanne Michelle wrote:

A behaviorist view of breaches in the EU sanctions (by Matthew Christianson MSc)

Recent articles published world-wide reported that many companies within the EU ignore the union’s sanctions upon Iran and engage in business with the Middle Eastern country. While one can brush aside the effects of such sanction-breaching behaviour claiming that they are “one-offs” or occur in a limited scope, psychological theory in general, and behaviorism in particular show the danger of such breaches.

Behaviorism is a psychological school which was established by John, B. Watson in 1913. With such influential ancestors and followers as Ivan Pavlov and Burruhs F. Skinner behaviorism quickly became one of the most influential schools of thought in the 20th century. One of the main pillars of behaviorism is the assertion that the relationship between a behaviour and its consequence(s) determines the chance of that behaviour occurring in the future. Indeed, behaviorists believe that one of the most potent ways of changing maladaptive behaviour is by changing its consequences.

In order to explain how behaviorism relates to the problem of sanction-breaching it is first important to shortly (and very simplistically) explain the basis of behavioristic behavioral modification. There are two broad classes of consequences which are the pillar of behavioral modification- punishment and reinforcement.

Reinforcement

Reinforcement occurs when a behaviour is followed by a consequence which increases the occurrence of the behaviour in the future.

There are two types of reinforcement:

1)  Positive reinforcement- is where a behaviour is followed by a positive consequence (an addition of a stimulus or an increase in the intensity of a stimulus) which increases the occurrence of the behaviour in the future. For example, a child who is given a chocolate when he completes his homework and as a result he is more prone to do homework in the future.

2)  Negative reinforcement- can take one of two forms; escape or avoidance. When a behaviour stops (or decreases the intensity) of a current aversive stimuli it is considered reinforced by escape. Alternatively, when a behaviour stops a future negative stimuli from occurring it is considered reinforced by avoidance. A somewhat morbid (albeit scientifically established) example can emphasize the difference between the two negative reinforcement types; a rat who had learned that pressing a leaver stops an occurring electric shock has been negatively reinforced by escape, on the other hand, a rat who has learned that a ring of a bell signifies an impending electric shock and therefore presses a leaver in order to stop that shock from occurring has been negatively reinforced by avoidance.

Punishment

Punishment occurs when a behaviour is followed by a consequence which decreases the occurrence of the behaviour in the future. Like in the case of reinforcement their are two types of punishment.

1)  Positive punishment: occurs when a behaviour results in the introduction of an aversive stimuli and as a result the behaviour occurs less in the future. For example, a rat which absorbs an electric shock after choosing to press the right lever instead of the left lever, and as a result is less likely to press the right lever in the future.

2)  Negative punishment: occurs when a behavior results in the removal of a reinforcer, and as a result the occurrence of that behaviour decreases in the future. For example; a child looses his allowance after he behaves badly at school, and as a result he is less likely to behave badly at school in the future.

Regardless of the consequence type (reinforcement or punishment) chosen for behavioral modification, the contingencies of such consequences are of utmost importance for the success of behavioral modification. In simple terms; contingencies regard how often a targeted behavior is followed by the same consequence. Herein lies the danger in companies breaching the sanctions imposed on Iran; the most effective way to modify behaviour is via a continuos reinforcement (or punishment) schedule. In a continuos schedule each and every occurrence of the targeted behaviour is subject to the same consequence. If the Iranian government is not continuously punished for its nuclear abilities seeking behaviour then they will never learn to stop these seeking behaviours. Indeed, if some companies breach the sanctions and trade with Iran then they are actually awarding Iran with negative reinforcement of the escape subtype; the Iranian government escapes the negative stimuli of sanctions by being awarded business deals by sanction breaching companies.

If the world community wants the punishments that they are imposing on Iran to work, then  it has to stand behind these punishments. The sanctions will never work if they are not continuously “awarded”. Furthermore, not continuously “awarding” punishment will in fact lengthen the amount of time in which these punishments have to be “awarded” and thus- suffered (this is because it will take more time to make the nuclear abilities seeking behaviour stop). Only after the Iranian government stop their nuclear abilities seeking behaviour can the world begin to give them reinforcements that will strengthen their peace seeking behaviours.

 

 

Sanction Loopholes – Deutsche Bank breaches EU decisions?

Deutsche Bank is being investigated for possible breach of sanctions and international norms. Coming from Germany, the country that leads the EU market economy, this raises great doubts regarding the effectiveness of sanctions in the current constellation. Once the strategy of sanctions was initiated by the EU, a reasonable share of players have to stick to it to ensure effectiveness while consistently stressing the matters these sanctions are purposed to surface (Human Rights violations as well as nuclear vagueness). Otherwise it’s just  an unjustified, futile stress applied directly on the Iranian people – And completely missing the actual targetk, that is Iranian policy makers.

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