Knock This Chip Off My Shoulder

Jim Brown
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Iran announced plans to build 10 more uranium enrichment facilities in a retaliation move for the U.N. nuclear agency the IAEA. If you don't like the two facilities we already have then we will build ten more just to show the UN does not control us. Almost everyone sees this for what it really is, pure bluster and hot air.

You would think that a strong vote to censure last week by the IAEA because of Iran's lack of cooperation and unwillingness to even let inspectors into locations without weeks of preparation would have been enough to tame their outward appearance. Whether they do anything different behind the scenes is immaterial but you would think they would at least make a show of cooperating.

This move of strong defiance, regardless of whether they actually plan on building additional sites, is simply saying we don't care about being accepted by the world and there is nothing you can do about it. Unfortunately open defiance like this could sway the remaining members of the UN security council to actually vote for some stiff sanctions rather than some light hand slapping.

U.S. and European officials were quick to condemn the plans and warned that Iran would sink deeper into isolation if they continued to follow this path. Iran is pulling the tigers tail and the tiger is about to wake up. However, even if Iran did decide to build the extra facilities they will have a very tough time doing it because existing sanctions have already shut down all avenues of acquiring nuclear equipment other than on the black market and smuggling.

Iran insists it only wants to create fuel for nuclear reactors to generate electricity. However, the IAEA has already found that the level of enrichment of uranium already processed is far in excess of that needed for a power plant. Iran has already turned down offers from several nations to supply them fuel rods for only a fraction of what it would cost Iran to manufacturer the rods themselves. Even an 8th grader would understand that turning down an offer for all the fuel you could use for $100 a year would be vastly preferable to doing it yourself at the cost of $1 million a year. Only an idiot would pass on that deal. The numbers are for example only but you get the idea.

Not only do they not have access to the parts to enrich uranium they don't have enough uranium to run 10 facilities and they can't buy either. A diplomat from one of the six world powers who spoke anonymously said Iran has significant problems with the Natanz facility. They can't even keep the current centrifuges running much less add more.

The only real fear is that Iran knows they may eventually be bombed and by creating 10 new secret facilities nobody will know which one are real and which are fake. This concern was immediately brought to the front for planners because Iran kept the Qom site secret for many months. When it was discovered there were immediately concerns that there may be more. Several analysts believe the Qom site was going to be a secret military facility where they could quietly enrich uranium while keeping the world scrutiny on Natanz. Now that Qom has been exposed they probably want to replace it with another secret site elsewhere.

The defiance was so blatant that the French defense minister said the international community should "probably commit toward new economic sanctions against Iran." This is material since France has always backed down from tough sanctions. This means some of the fence straddlers are finally committing.

I think Iran may have gone too far this time. Even though all the UN officials know this is bravado it is still defiance when they want cooperation. Odds are growing that the next round of sanctions could up the ante.

Oil prices shot up to nearly $78 on this news and the news that Iran had detained a British racing yacht and its five-man crew. Nothing like a little hostility to go along with your defiance.

Jim Brown.