News / Middle East

    Analysts Dispute Iran's Uranium-Enrichment Claims

    Multimedia

    The international community has demanded that Iran fully acknowledge all of its nuclear related activities, and halt any work toward acquiring nuclear weapons. But Tehran has responded by announcing that it will not only continue to enrich uranium, but also, expand production.

    Despite condemnation from around the globe, Iran says it will continue to enrich uranium. And, in the eyes of many, the Islamic Republic is also working to make these enrichment activities even less visible.

    On June 8, the head of Iran's atomic energy agency, Fereidoun Abbasi, said uranium enrichment would be done at two facilities - though apparently for different uses.

    One facility, at Natanz, will continue to enrich uranium for electrical generation. But another facility, called Fordo, will have a much more controversial purpose. Analyst Corey Hinderstein, with the anti-proliferation group Nuclear Threat Initiative, says the Fordo enrichment will be to a much higher level.

    "This is the kind of enrichment that is still not usable in a nuclear weapon, but it gives them a platform from which, if they made a decision to make a nuclear weapon, they could do so in a much shorter amount of time," Hingerstein noted.

    The Fardo enrichment facility is within an apparently heavily-fortified, hollowed-out mountain near the city of Qom.  And that, according to former weapons inspector and nuclear analyst David Albright, at the Institute for Science and International Security, does the opposite of assuring the world that Iran's nuclear intentions are peaceful.

    "What Iran has done is send a very provocative signal that it is taking centrifuges - advanced centrifuges - and putting them underground in a site that cannot be bombed," noted Albright.  "And then, making materials. They could be, in the end, just that much closer to material that would be used in a nuclear weapon."

    Iran nuclear chief Abbasi says the Fardo enrichment site will produce uranium enriched to about 20 percent, to be used in creating medical isotopes.  And he says the facility will do this enrichment at three times the previous rate.  Corey Hinderstein says she flatly rejects this justification.

    "They already have about 50 kilograms of this higher enriched - 20 percent – uranium," Hinderstein said.  "That is, already, about five years' worth of material for the [Tehran Research medical] reactor.  And, they have no other reactors to use [for creating medical isotopes].  So, the idea that they would need triple this amount on an annual basis just doesn't jibe with their civilian activities."

    Iran's continued work on its nuclear program has caused some to call for military action.  But that threat, according to some analysts, only causes Tehran to be even more determined to proceed.  And, they say, it's why nothing substantive seems to have come from repeated talks with Iranian officials.

    The RAND Corporation recently issued a report on Iran's nuclear program which contained several proposals for the United States and other nations.

    One course of action would be to make current sanctions against Iran even tougher, and back that up with a more robust U.S. military presence in the Gulf.

    Another option would be to combine tougher sanctions with the building of missile defenses by other Persian Gulf countries to neutralize possible Iranian threats.

    Yet a third idea set forth in the RAND report would go the other direction - relaxing sanctions and perceived military threats in hopes of pulling Iran out of its "bunker" mentality.

    One of the RAND study's authors, Ali Reza Nader, says this third approach would have to overcome decades of hostilities between Iran and the West.

    "One of the options we discussed in the report is diplomacy, or engagement - lessening Iran's sense of threat from the United States," noted Ali Reza Nader.  "Of course, there are various impediments to achieving this from both sides.  Building the domestic support for some sort of relationship with Iran and the United States."

    Analyst Nader says Tehran's first and foremost imperative is to ensure the survival of its regime.  He, and the RAND study, say that addressing this primary concern may be the key to finally getting Iran to ease its nuclear ambitions.


    Jeffrey Young

    Jeffrey Young is a Senior Analyst in VOA’s Global English TV.  He has spent years covering global strategic issues, corruption, the Middle East, and Africa. During most of 2013, he was on special assignment in Baghdad and elsewhere with the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR).  Previous VOA activities include video journalism and the “Focus” news analysis unit. He also does journalist training overseas for VOA.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games, Despite Woes

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora