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Attacking Iran Could Speed Up Nuclear Program

The report suggests air strikes, like those reportedly being considered by the United States and Israel, would harden Iranian attitudes and political resistance to outside pressure to stop uranium enrichment. The Islamic republic would then focus on manufacturing one or two nuclear devices, leading to a nuclear-armed Iran within one or two years, it added. Hans Blix, who headed the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) in Iraq and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), backs the report's assessment. He wrote in the report's foreword: "Armed attacks on Iran would very likely lead to the result they were meant to avoid -- the building of nuclear weapons within a few years."

The report argued that military action would probably result in a high number of civilian casualties, as a surprise attack would inevitably catch many people unawares and unprotected. Air strikes would have to hit many well-protected targets across Iran, including the Kalaye Electric Company, which produces components for gas centrifuges used in uranium enrichment. Other targets would include the Bushehr nuclear reactor, the Arak heavy water reactor and heavy water production plant, uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz, uranium mines at Saghand and the research reactors at Isfahan.

by Staff Writers
London (AFP) Mar 05, 2007
Pre-emptive military strikes on Iran could accelerate rather than hinder Tehran's production of atomic weapons, a report by a British global security think-tank said Monday. Backed by the former chief UN weapons inspector in Iraq, Hans Blix, the Oxford Research Group said Iran could respond to an attack by launching a "crash programme" and build a crude nuclear device within months.

"If Iran is moving towards a nuclear weapons capacity it is doing it relatively slowly, most estimates put it at least five years away," said one of the report's authors, leading British nuclear scientist Frank Barnaby.

"However attacking Iran -- far from setting back their progress towards a bomb -- would almost certainly lead to a fast-track programme to develop a small number of nuclear devices as quickly as possible.

"It would be a bit like deciding to build a car from spare parts instead of building the entire car factory. Put simply, military attacks could speed Iran's progress to a nuclear bomb."

The report suggests air strikes, like those reportedly being considered by the United States and Israel, would harden Iranian attitudes and political resistance to outside pressure to stop uranium enrichment.

The Islamic republic would then focus on manufacturing one or two nuclear devices, leading to a nuclear-armed Iran within one or two years, it added.

Blix, who headed the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) in Iraq and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), backs the report's assessment.

He wrote in the report's foreword: "Armed attacks on Iran would very likely lead to the result they were meant to avoid -- the building of nuclear weapons within a few years."

The report argued that military action would probably result in a high number of civilian casualties, as a surprise attack would inevitably catch many people unawares and unprotected.

Air strikes would have to hit many well-protected targets across Iran, including the Kalaye Electric Company, which produces components for gas centrifuges used in uranium enrichment.

Other targets would include the Bushehr nuclear reactor, the Arak heavy water reactor and heavy water production plant, uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz, uranium mines at Saghand and the research reactors at Isfahan.

But the report said there was a "real possibility" Iran had built secret facilities elsewhere as well as "false targets" in anticipation of air strikes.

"With inadequate intelligence, it is unlikely that it would be possible to identify and subsequently destroy the number of targets needed to set back Iran's nuclear programme for a significant period," it said.

The report suggested that Iran could salvage enough material for a bomb from the reactor at Bushehr after any attack, or turn to the black market, where small amounts of uranium or plutonium would be easy to smuggle.

Alternatively, the Iranians may already set have up clandestine facilities with centrifuges that could escape an attack.

"It is a mistake to believe that Iran can be deterred from attaining a nuclear weapons capability by bombing its facilities," the report said.

"In the aftermath of a military strike, if Iran devoted maximum effort and resources to building one nuclear bomb, it could achieve this in a relatively short amount of time: some months rather than years."

The group's executive director, John Sloboda, said: "This report doesn't get into the rights and wrongs of military strikes. It asks whether they will achieve their objectives...

"The conclusions should be food for thought for even the most hawkish: military strikes against Iran will simply not work. Indeed they could even bring a nuclear-armed Iran closer."

Source: Agence France-Presse

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US To Build Nuclear Warhead Using New Design
Washington (AFP) March 02, 2007
The United States said Friday it had selected the design of next-generation nuclear warheads, a step toward the construction of new bombs for the sea-based nuclear arsenal to replace aging Cold War-era stock. The government chose a design by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California over a competing design by the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico for the project, the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) said in a statement.







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