Ahmadinejad Amps Up Iran Nuke Development; Iran Getting Stronger and More Aggressive; more on Iran downing US spy plane

Posted on July 24, 2011

Ahmadinejad Amps Up Iran Nuke Development

VIENNA (AP) — Iran’s president wants to shed the nation’s secrecy and forge ahead openly with developing nuclear weapons but is opposed by the clerical leadership, which is worried about international reaction to such a move, says an intelligence assessment shared with The Associated Press.

Attempts to interpret Iran’s goals are important because as it expands uranium enrichment, it is moving closer to being able to make a nuclear weapon by the day, even as it asserts that it is not interested in such arms and its programs are geared only to making reactor fuel.

A blunt comment by Ahmadinejad last month raises questions. While repeating that Iran does not want nuclear arms, he openly reinforced its ability to make them, telling Iranian state TV that “if we want to make a bomb, we are not afraid of anybody.”

That defiant statement fits the scenario laid down by the intelligence assessment shared with the AP, depicting Ahmadinejad as wanting to move publicly to develop a nuclear program.

Ahmadinejad is pushing “to shake free of the restraints Iran has imposed upon itself, and openly push forward to create a nuclear bomb,” says the assessment shared with the AP. But Khamenei, whose word is final on nuclear and other issues, “wants to progress using secret channels, due to concern about a severe response from the West,” says the report.

The varying views reflect the difficulties that intelligence agencies face when probing a secretive nation that plays its cards close to its chest. Lines of division are murky. Alliances shift and positions change, leaving governments and private analysts frustrated as they try to nail down Tehran’s nuclear end game.

They converge, however in noting that recent political divisions between Ahmadinejad and Khamenei have spilled over to encompass Iran’s nuclear activities to a greater degree than before.

While much about Iran’s nuclear program is opaque, the growing capacity — if not the intention — to make weapons is on the record, captured in International Atomic Energy Agency reports documenting the expansion of Iran’s enrichment program from its clandestine beginnings more than a decade ago to one that has produced enough material for more than two nuclear bombs.

More recently Iran has begun enriching to higher levels that would lessen the time needed to make weapons-grade material. And its stonewalling of an IAEA probe based on U.S. and other intelligence of secret work on components of a nuclear weapons program is adding to concerns raised by Tehran’s refusal to freeze enrichment despite U.N. sanctions.

Proliferation expert David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security says his briefings from European government officials who have seen the latest U.S. intelligence assessment on the Islamic Republic seem to support the assessment shared with the AP that Khamenei is worried about how the world would react to a nuclear-armed Iran.

“There is a lot of caution in the regime about the implication of building nuclear weapons,” says Albright. Asked whether Ahmadinejad or Khamenei have been the most circumspect, he says “the implication is that it was the Supreme Leader.”

The leadership is “worried about starting a nuclear weapons race and worried about the international impact,” said Albright, naming reactions from regional powers Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey as that of greatest concern to Tehran. Both Egypt and the Saudis have indicated that they would contemplate acquiring nuclear weapons if Iran had them.

One theory voiced by government officials and private analysts is that Iran might be looking to reach the level just short of making nuclear weapons — but able to do so quickly if it feels threatened. That would fit in with Khamenei’s reported cautious stance.

The Revolutionary Guard — the military-industrial powerhouse —  is increasingly asserting itself in most aspects of Iran’s society. 

“Khamenei has decided to transfer engagement with the most sensitive parts of the nuclear program, including activity that can be used for nuclear weapons, from … the group of scientists at the Defense Ministry, who are identified with Ahmadinejad, to a special body in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp.,” it says. “This, due to the increasing lack of trust the Leader has in people in sensitive positions, who are identified with the President.”

The summary interprets the apparent decision to give the guard greater say over nuclear issues as a boost to its quest “to establish its status as a leading power force in the regime.”

The Post explains that despite the praiseworthy sanctions:

“There has been no change in Iran’s drive for nuclear weapons or in its aggressive efforts to drive the United States out of the Middle East. If anything, Tehran has recently grown bolder…

Iran: America Too Depleted to Attack Even if We Make the Bomb!

by ‘Reza Kahlili’ – Because of the Obama administration’s weakness, the Revolutionary Guards think they can win…

Iranian Troops Attack Kurdish Camps in Iraq

Iran has been waging a proxy war against US and allies for years, but now ramping it up into more open aggression.

Bottom line is that we are at war with Iran whether anyone wants to admit it or not.



Lawmaker: Iran shot down unmanned US spy plane

By ALI AKBAR DAREINI – Associated Press | AP – 6 hrs ago

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s Revolutionary Guard shot down an unmanned U.S. spy plane that was trying to gather information on an underground uranium enrichment site, a state-owned news site said Wednesday.

Lawmaker Ali Aghazadeh Dafsari said the drone was flying over the Fordo uranium enrichment site near the holy city of Qom in central Iran, the state TV-run Youth Journalists Club said.

The report did not say when the plane was shot down.

Iran is locked in a dispute with the U.S. and its allies over Tehran’s disputed nuclear program, which the West believes aims to develop nuclear weapons. Iran denies the accusations, saying its nuclear program is aimed at generating electricity and producing isotopes to treat medical patients.

Long kept secret, the Fordo site is built next to a military complex to protect it in case of attack. Iran only acknowledged Fordo’s existence after Western intelligence agencies identified it in September 2009. The facility is reportedly located 295 feet (90 meters) underneath a mountain.

Iran says it is planning to install advanced centrifuges at Fordo to speed up its nuclear activities.

U.S. nuclear experts say by increasing the enrichment level and its stock of nearly 20 percent low-enriched uranium, Iran could reach a “break out” capability that would allow it to make enough weapon-grade uranium for a nuclear weapon.

Iran has claimed to shoot down U.S. spy planes in the past. Earlier this month, Iranian military officials showed Russian experts several U.S. drones they said were shot down in recent years.

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