Iran Already Nuclear Ready

Iran ‚2 to 3 weeks‘ from nuclear bomb

Former IAEA director warns Tehran could nix deal, arm itself quickly

Published: 18 hours ago


If Iran breaks its deal with the West tomorrow, the country would be only two to three weeks away from producing enough highly enriched uranium to assemble a nuclear weapon, according to Olli Heinonen, former deputy director of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Heinonen directed the safeguards division of the United Nations body charged with enforcing the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
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He was asked Sunday on Aaron Klein’s WABC Radio show about the timeframe in response to statements from Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, who boasted last week that Tehran can nix its deal with the West and resume enriching uranium to 20-percent levels within one day if it so desires.
Heinonen responded that if Iran wanted it would currently take the country “two, three weeks to have enough uranium hexafluoride high-enriched for one single weapon.”
He told Klein: “If [Iran] in reality [abrogates the deal] tomorrow, they still have quite a substantial stock of uranium hexafluoride, which is enriched to 20 percent. … And then technically, when Iran has committed to this month to certain parts of the processes in such a way these tandem cascades are not anymore connected with each other, you can indeed put them back in one day’s time.
“So if this all happens in the next, let’s say, weeks, this is really true. They can start to produce 20-percent enriched uranium,” he said. “Now, in order to go fast for Iran, it actually needs to make several such tandem cascades. Not just those in Natanz and Fordow [nuclear plants]. They have to put perhaps some 6,000 centrifuges to work in this kind of a mode.”
Continued the former IAEA director: “If they do that, which they can technically do, it will take certainly a little bit more than one night to do. But then once they have sorted it out, it would take about two, three weeks to have enough uranium hexafluoride high-enriched for one single weapon.”
Heinonen explained that as time elapses and Iran converts more of its 20-percent enriched uranium to five percent, as is required by the U.S.-backed deal, the two to three week timeframe to produce a nuclear weapon will expand.
He said that if Iran keeps its side of the deal then in six months from now “it will take at least three months” more to enrich enough uranium to assemble a nuclear weapon.


The Third Horn’s Change Of Guard


A change of guard in Pakistan stokes nuclear safety fears

A cryptic message on December 18, 2013 announced a change of guard in the Strategic Plans Division (SPD), which marked the end of a long and distinguished career of its director general (DG) Lt. Gen. Khalid Ahmed Kidwai, whose name had become virtually synonymous with the nuclear weapons and strategy management of the country. He was replaced by Lt. Gen. Zubair Mahmood Hayat, corps commander Bahawalpur in one of the quieter moves by the Nawaz Sharif government, which has renewed the debate on the safety of Pakistan’s growing nuclear arsenal. An oft quoted news report described Hayat as “brainy, brave and bold” and that he was commissioned in the Artillery regiment in the 80s. The new SPD chief has a tough challenge ahead to reorient the organisation in testing times.As a measure of Lt. Gen. Kidwai’s crucial importance, it was the outgoing SPD chief who briefed Chief of Army Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif during his visit to the institution last week. Gen. Sharif in a statement said that Pakistan’s nuclear programme occupied a central place for the defence of the country.
Lt. Gen. Kidwai headed SPD since its inception in 1999 and turned it into a “true nuclear conclave” as described by Feroze Hasan Khan in his book Eating Grass: The Making of the Pakistani Bomb. Lt. Gen. Kidwai is quoted in the book as saying that no delegation of authority concerning nuclear weapons is planned, during a lecture in the U.S. in 2006 but already there are reports from the U.S. media expressing concern over his exit after some 12 extensions and the biggest fear is that nuclear weapons could fall into the wrong hands.
When a similar atmosphere of distrust prevailed in 2008, Lt. Gen. Kidwai had invited the foreign press for an extraordinary briefing which included two Indian journalists. At that time he had reassured everyone that the country’s strategic assets were in safe hands and that there was “no conceivable scenario” in which they could fall into the hands of extremists. He said there was “no chance that one day there will be a DG SPD here with a long beard who will be controlling everything.” But the world community now will need much more than assurances and it is not for nothing that the U.S. has reportedly increased surveillance over Pakistan, according to information from whistleblower Edward Snowden which has been refuted by the federal government here.
Michael Kugelman in a recent article in The National Interest titled “One More Reason to worry about Pakistan’s Nukes” asks the question, “Is anyone other than Khalid Kidwai capable of managing Pakistan’s nuclear security challenges, given their sheer magnitude?”
Stating that there is good reason to be anxious about Lt. Gen. Kidwai’s departure, he adds that “Few countries are as prone to a nuclear crisis as Pakistan — and this threat could well rise in the next year. The withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan portends heightened competition between Pakistan and India for influence in Afghanistan. The U.S. troop withdrawal also deprives militants of a prime target, increasing the likelihood that some jihadists — including those with ties to Pakistan’s security establishment — will launch new campaigns of violence in India. These scenarios could dangerously escalate India-Pakistan tensions, and conceivably trigger armed mobilisations that include Tactical Nuclear Weapons.”
In 2012, security authorities acknowledged a “serious threat” from the Pakistani Taliban to attack one of Pakistan’s largest nuclear installations,” he points out. However, Pakistan has repeatedly emphasised the safety of its nuclear installations and its credible minimum deterrence policy.
Central Information Secretary of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Shireen Mazari, slammed “the U.S. media campaign launched once again against Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.”
Lt. Gen. Talat Masood, chief coordinator of the think tank Pugwash told The Hindu that fears of nuclear weapons falling into the wrong hands was always there but comments are being made by people who don’t understand Pakistan and equate the nuclear with the conventional weapons set-up. There can be no change as far as safety issues are concerned and the new DG will be even more careful. Even if the control of the nuclear weapons is with the military there is a separate command and control structure protected by a separate force, physically and technology wise and it was secure, he said.
The government relies on the new DG and the military leadership had recommended him and SPD had grown into a mature institution, he pointed out. “Kidwai had a long and productive innings and enjoyed the confidence of both the civil and military leadership and we need to acknowledge his contribution to the nuclear establishment,” he added.
In a 2014 report by the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), in a list of 25 countries Pakistan has been ranked 22 and India 23 in terms of security of nuclear materials with scores of 46 and 41 respectively. While India has criticised the basis of the report, it says, “Among nuclear-armed states, Pakistan is most improved through a series of steps to update nuclear security regulations and to implement best practices, though it ranks 22nd overall.”
However, in terms of security control measures, India ranks the lowest below Pakistan among the 25 nuclear countries with weapons-usable nuclear materials. Pakistan is lowest in the ranking for risk environment with 19 points out of 100.
In the 2014 NTI Index, the scores of the nine nuclear-armed states remained mostly static, with some states’ scores increasing or decreasing by a single point. Pakistan was a notable exception, with its score increasing by three points compared with 2012, and it demonstrated the largest improvement of any nuclear-armed state, the report said.
Pakistan is taking steps to update its nuclear security regulations and to implement nuclear security best practices. In particular, new regulations have improved its scores in the On-Site Physical Protection indicator. Pakistan also participated in new bilateral and multilateral assistance, although its score for Voluntary Commitments was already high. Despite those positive developments, Pakistan must still improve its regulations for physical protection, control and accounting, and insider threat prevention, the report said. And that will be the big challenge for the SPD’s new chief who has his task cut out for him.

Taliban Infiltrates Pakistani Nukes

De Borchgrave: Pakistan Facing Disaster as Taliban Infiltrates Nuclear Nation

Wednesday, 15 Jan 2014 11:30 AM
By Arnaud De Borchgrave
From Libya to Iraq, including Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon, the Arab world, seldom tranquil, is monopolizing world headlines. But the more alarming news is further east in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Pakistan is a nuclear power balanced on the edge of another disaster.While the Obama administration is trying to disengage from Afghanistan without ceding power to Taliban guerrillas, Taliban in Pakistan, a nuclear power, are everywhere, including Karachi, the country’s commercial hub and port of 25 million. And the world’s third largest city. Today’s Pakistani Taliban are no longer confined to the tribal areas straddling the Pak-Afghan border.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who served in the same post twice before (1990-93; 1997-99), was deposed by President Pervez Musharraf in 1999 and spent almost a decade in Saudi Arabian exile where he developed close relationships with key royals.
Musharraf is now on trial for treason — ordered by Sharif — in Islamabad. And army commanders are unhappy in a military coup-prone nuclear weapons power.
Altogether, this is an explosive mix in a nuclear power that has spent half of its 67 years as a nation under military rule. And this will happen again unless Sharif alters course from a geopolitical compass heading that reads — TALIBAN!
One astute observer of the Pakistani drama said privately, “Taliban are gaining ground and political canvas under what some consider a smart play by Nawaz Sharif. He is facilitating the political emergence of Talibanized Shariah law under the watchful eye of Taliban’s thought-control police.”
These strictly orthodox Sunni Muslims advocate the forced, compulsory return to the earliest days of Islam.
With what Sharif believes is a smart politico-religious play, Talibanized Shariah will become the law of the land, policed by Taliban under a Saudi Wahabi umbrella.
Provided the army stands idly by, Sharif sees himself as the Amirul Momineen (Commander of the Faithful) of the nuclear caliphate, a region that, in his mind, would stretch from Pakistan to Mauritania on the Atlantic coast of West Africa.
Delusions of grandeur? No doubt. But Saudi Arabia, in the light of Iran’s momentarily postponed nuclear weapons plans, feels naked without the means of a nuclear riposte in case of attack.
Until now, secret Saudi funding (including marked down Saudi oil) for the improvement of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal didn’t include the transfer of nuclear weapons and their missile delivery system to the kingdom. The next phase of the secret compact may well include the transfer of nukes to the kingdom.
Saudi Arabia’s national security adviser, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, is a key voice in the ongoing debate of what’s best for the kingdom.
U.S. and European policy planners must soon face an inevitable Pak dilemma: 1) Talibanized Shariah rule or 2) moderate army rule to curb and cut the influence of an evil, medieval nexus.
The Saudi leadership concluded in recent months that the United States under the Barack Obama presidency is no longer the security guarantee it once was. Having their own nuclear weapons capability would give the kingdom the added measure of security it now judges to be indispensable.
Last month Amos Yadlin, a former Israeli military intelligence chief, said, “The Saudis are no longer willing to wait. They’ve paid for it and they want it now.”
Yadlin was defense attache in Washington 2004-06 and then appointed head of Israel’s Military Intelligence Directorate. He was one of eight pilots selected to carry out Operation Opera against Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor in June 1981 during the Saddam Hussein regime. His 5,000 flight hours include 250 combat missions.
The Saudi leadership concluded late last year that a rapprochement was underway between Iran and the Obama administration. They see the United States softening its stance toward Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Iran is suspending its work on producing a nuclear weapon but not abandoning it.
In Afghanistan, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry believes the United States will be rid of President Hamid Karzai when Karzai’s second term expires this spring. He avoids contact with senior U.S. officials. When U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel decided not to go to Kabul and stopped in Islamabad instead, Karzai left for Iran the same day.
Other recent Karzai moves:
  • Working with Nawaz Sharif/Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, also known as Pakistan Taliban whose enemies are India and the United States.
  • Working with India and the “Northern Alliance” versus Pakistan and TTP.
  • Working with Iran versus the United States and Pakistan Taliban.

It is confusing and intended to be. Karzai is also trying every avenue to establish a link at the top of the Pakistani army versus the United States and India. But this gambit failed.
The Pak army wants Karzai completely out of power. They describe him as an unguided missile.
Karzai has also danced around the imperative need to sign a bilateral security agreement with the United States. He is buying time to insert himself in any power-sharing arrangement available.
Continuation in any topside capacity following the U.S. withdrawal at the end of this year seems to be Karzai’s objective. Taliban appear to be satisfied with Karzai’s survival antics. This enables Taliban to gain more time to consolidate an anti-Karzai front.
Sharif appears to be encouraging Karzai. But Pakistan’s new army chief Raheel Sharif is convinced terrorists inside Pakistan — i.e., Taliban — are a greater threat than India.
Sharif favors negotiation with his domestic Taliban whereas the army is determined to take a hard line against all terrorists and insurgents, reports South Asian commentator Ammar Turabi.
The Pak deck is stacked. Unless Sharif backs down and abandons his politico-religious extremists, the Pakistani powder keg is ready to blow again, Turabi says.
NATO supply lines — used mostly to evacuate U.S. equipment from Afghanistan — remain blocked by Sharif’s political ally Imran Khan, the former cricket star and now political chief in the province that leads to the Khyber Pass.
Khyber will remain blocked as long as the United States continues drone strikes against Taliban in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
The good news: Pakistan’s new army chief is siding with the United States.
The outlook: Increased mayhem in a nuclear power.