Friday, August 12, 2005

I Ran, You Ran, We All Ran ...

From Iran?

Yes, indeed.

Iran has a nuclear energy industry in its country, which is all well and good. There are few large rivers, so sources of energy other than petroleum are rather scarce. However, one of the really nifty things you can do with spent uranium fuel is process it, enriching it into its weapons-grade isotope. After that, it's really Very Simple.

Case in point: The Manhattan Project was so certain that their Mark 1 bomb (the Hiroshima weapon, or "Little Boy") would work that they never tested the concept before dropping it. Recipe: Take two subcritical masses of uranium and put them at either end of a gun barrel. Add an initiator, then propel one mass into another. Bake at about 1 million degrees F.

Now, the United States and the European Union would very much like not to see this happen, as Iran funds terrorist groups and might be willing to either sell or give The Bomb to these troublemakers. So various inducements have been offered, along with the threat of sanctions. Iran has so far laughed at the idea of sanctions, and has hinted darkly at shutting off their oil supplies to the West if sanctions are imposed. Ten dollars for a gallon of regular unleaded, anyone?

The mullahs in Iran are so far quite unimpressed by this, and are saying that having The Bomb is desirable. Okay, so they want the bling that goes with being a first-rate power. Everyone wants to be a first-rate power, right? Hell, India and Pakistan (two countries not ordinarily known for restraint) have the bling - and Pakistan just tested their first cruise missile. So Iran just wants to join the Club.

The Bushite Junta doesn't want Iran to have the bomb, and has gone so far as to start contingency planning for a series of tactical nuclear strikes against selected targets. How well that will play out with Iran's neighbors (Russia, China, Pakistan and India, all of whom have The Bomb) remains to be seen. But since invading Iran might be a bit difficult at the present time (what with Afghanistan and Iraq), the real Nuclear Option might be the only card the US has to play.


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