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Spinning Iran’s centrifuges via Asia Times Online

By Yousaf Butt

Consider yourself warned – “[I]n the next few years Iran will be in position to detonate a nuclear device,” so writes Ray Takeyh, confidently, in a recent Washington Post OpEd [1]. Why? Because the Iranian government willingly informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it would begin installing additional centrifuges with higher capacity to enrich uranium. [2]

Just like fertilizer can be used to increase crop yields – or make bombs – uranium is a dual use material.

Uranium enrichment has been conflated with nuclear weaponization so often that it has morphed into a virtual bogeyman bomb itself – an absolutely impermissible activity for the likes of Iran to pursue. This was not always the case. In irony that only history can muster, Iran’s nuclear program was kicked off in the 1950s with the full encouragement and support of the United States, under the auspices of president Dwight D Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace program. [3]

In 1970, the US proposed installing 23 nuclear power plants in Iran by the year 2000. A 1976 directive by then-president Gerald Ford offered Iran a US-built reprocessing facility for extracting plutonium from nuclear reactor fuel, another key ingredient for making nuclear bombs. [4] This “nuclear fuel-cycle” infrastructure is precisely the type of technology the US is now keen to keep out of Iran.

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