Friday, February 03, 2006

WSJ on Iranian Nuclear Threat

This is editorial, which is worth reading in its entirety, suggests that Iran may be much closer to having a functioning bomb than I had realized:

The timetable under which the Iranian threat operates also needs to be reconsidered. For years, advocates of diplomacy have claimed the nuclear danger lies far away--a decade, if last year's leaked U.S. National Intelligence Estimate is to be believed. Yet last month Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the IAEA, told Newsweek that if the Iranians "have the nuclear material and they have a parallel weaponization program along the way, they are really not very far--a few months--from a weapon."

As to whether such a parallel program exists, Mr. ElBaradei "won't exclude that possibility," and with good reason. Much of what now comprises Iran's declared nuclear facilities--the uranium enrichment facility at Natanz; the heavy-water production plant at Arak--were themselves part of a secret program until 2002, when their existence was disclosed by an Iranian opposition group. This week, the existence of the so-called Green Salt Project (referring to a byproduct of uranium enrichment) was revealed by the IAEA, further evidence that Iran's programs may be more advanced than commonly believed.

Whether the Iranians are months or years from a bomb, there is little question they are on their way. In past years, President Bush has described a nuclear Iran as an "intolerable" threat. It's time he begins explaining to the American people exactly why this is so.


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