CHARLOTTE, NC, November 13, 2014 – Last year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel held up a cartoonish representation of a bomb while speaking at the U.N. to demonstrate how close Iran is to getting nuclear weapons. Netanyahu warned that Iran is considerably more advanced in its nuclear program than estimates projected.
From the complacent West the reaction was largely “ho hum” due to the belief that Bibi Netanyahu was, for the most part, fear mongering. Certainly the United States under the Obama administration paid little attention.
Now, according to an article in The Clarion Project, a 27-year veteran of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Dr. Olli Heinonen, believes Iran could have a nuclear weapon in a year or less.
Speaking in the Sunday Times of London, Heinonen went even further by saying that a weapon could be ready in six months if Iran were to use its stockpile of 3.5 percent enriched uranium in its 1,000 advanced centrifuges.
The Clarion Project notes that Heinonen previously emphasized in a report by the Henry Jackson Society that Iran has no need for advanced centrifuges if its nuclear program is intended for purely peaceful purposes.
By itself, such a report should be a red flag to Western nations, but given the rumors that the U.S. is involved in secret negotiations with Iran regarding assistance to fight ISIS in Syria and Iraq, Heinonen’s estimate could be a major concern.
Consider Barack Obama’s lack of negotiating skills, or perhaps his willingness to take bold initiatives such as the recent environmental treaty that does not even kick in for China until 2030, and there is reason for concern.
So concerned is Heinonen that he vehemently states, “the issue of ‘effective verification should be a non-negotiable basis’ of any agreement with Iran.”
Secretary of State John Kerry claims that any talks with Iran about the Islamic State do not include discussions about Iran’s nuclear capabilities. Kerry says they are separate issues.
Perhaps, but if Iran is actually as close to obtaining weapons for destructive use as Heinonen believes, then the idea of an agreement that includes Iran’s nuclear arsenal seems to be a valid topic for any negotiation.
Says Heinonen, the verification process, the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement (CSA), for IAEA is the appropriate way to assess Iran’s nuclear program, but Iran refuses to ratify the agreement.
The CSA document provides for access to Iran’s nuclear material, facilities, equipment and personnel.
According to Heinonen, one other vital aspect of agreement with Iran should include a method of proving that they are not obtaining nuclear materials through illegal means. If the Iranians are secretly buying sensitive components, then they likely also have the ability to establish hidden sites for nuclear production.
Sources report that the Obama administration has not included military cooperation or intelligence-sharing as part of its negotiations with Iran. If that is true, and nuclear weapons are not part of the talks, then the question of what we are negotiating with Iran about becomes unclear.
Iran’s goal is to have sanctions lifted or, at the very least, minimized so they can continue pursuing their nuclear program. If Dr. Heinonen is accurate in his assessment of Iran’s progress however, the negotiations may simply be nothing more than a delaying tactic so that Iran can complete its nuclear mission.
Deceitful as the Obama White House has been in so many aspects of its administration domestically, it would seem there is enough of a track record in dealings with the Middle East to avoid the missteps of the past.
On the other hand, do not be surprised if the West gets snookered again.
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club
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