Measures are in place to track Iran's nuclear ambitions

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The secondary headline on the Sept. 10 editorial "Iran enriches" asked: "If Tehran launches a final push for a weapon, can U.N. inspectors detect it?"

The answer is yes.

For a "final push" to reach fruition, Iran would need to enrich its 2,800 kilograms of low-enriched uranium to weapons grade. Even though Tehran does appear to want a secret facility to carry out that enrichment, its low-enriched uranium is still under safeguards. Cameras provide real-time monitoring, seals indicate any tampering, and unannounced visits by inspectors throughout the year provide a thorough accounting of the material.

Moreover, Iran keeps getting caught building secret facilities. Its attempt to construct a clandestine plant near Qom was discovered last year, and Tehran appears to have lost interest in completing the facility.

Shedding light on Iran's nuclear program has made it more costly and time-consuming for Iran to achieve a nuclear weapons capability. In the event of a military strike against Iran, however, that light would go dark, and uncertainties about Iran's capabilities would only increase.

Peter Crail, Washington

The writer is a nonproliferation analyst with the Arms Control Association.

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