Reuters is reporting that diplomatic sources in Vienna indicate Iran is in the process of installing newer and more advanced models of centrifuges to refine uranium that may be used to create nuclear weapons. These machines replace the older, more accident-prone centrifuges whose mishaps have slowed the development of the Iranian program. The new centrifuges have the potential to drastically shorten the time frame for Tehran’s gaining nuclear capability.
There are some doubts about the Iranians’ ability to use the more advanced models. However, the idea their technical backwardness is a permanent bar to a nuclear weapon seems more a function of a Western desire to avoid dealing with the threat than with hard intelligence. The centrifuges are reportedly being installed inside a mountain bunker, and they are further proof that an Iranian bomb is not the distant threat that optimists would have us believe.
It bears repeating that the Iranians view the low-key diplomacy of the Obama administration on this issue as weakness. First, after a vain attempt at appeasement through “engagement” and then a fruitless campaign that imposed only weak United Nations sanctions on Iran, Obama has convinced Tehran he isn’t serious about stopping their nuclear program.
For a time, it was believed the Stuxnet computer virus would be sufficient to end the nuclear threat. Although the virus caused a long delay, the Iranians have apparently overcome the problem. While intelligence estimates as to when their program will produce a weapon may vary, the installation of advanced technology should temper the optimism of those who foolishly believe the Iranians will never figure out how to create a bomb.
This latest evidence of the Iranian determination to continue until they get a bomb ought to convince the West their reliance on weak sanctions is a recipe for disaster. The clock is ticking toward the moment when the world will have to deal with the announcement that Iran has tested its first nuclear weapon. Such a development would pose a dire threat to Israel, as well as the entire Middle East. Neither Washington nor Jerusalem can afford to sit back and wait until that day dawns.