Subscribe to Naomi's blog and receive a notification every time Naomi posts a new article.Click to Subscribe

The Centrifuges Just Keep on Spinning

The knowledge that Iran has a stockpile of 20% enriched uranium should have enraged all those who have been sitting back politely and listening to Ahmadinejad’s fairy tales all these years.

Being in my home town, New York, for the Jerusalem Post Conference was a very interesting experience.

The conference speakers were all top-notch, providing many memorable anecdotes and a wealth of information.

But the speech I can’t get out of my head, and which is keeping me up at night, I actually heard the day before, at the Fifth Avenue Synagogue, sandwiched between the end of the morning Shabbat service and kiddush. The speaker was Ambassador Brad Gordon, AIPAC’s director of policy and government affairs. Once an assistant director of the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency for Non-Proliferation Policy, he was responsible for all issues related to the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons as well as the missiles to deliver them. He was also ambassador to the Conference on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in Geneva in 1990, and prior to that was in the CIA’s Near Eastern and South Asian office.

Graying and compact, his calm demeanor belied the flabbergasting nature of his message.

In short, as we in Israel merrily roll along, Iran’s centrifuges are producing uranium enriched to 20 percent – way beyond the enrichment needed for a nuclear reactor, and just a hop, skip and a jump to the 90% enrichment needed to provide fissionable material for the core of an atomic implosion bomb. While the computer bug we were all so happy about might have slowed them down slightly, the Iranians already have an enormous stockpile of the stuff.

Though I hadn’t known about the stockpile, I still wasn’t unduly worried at that point in his talk. Like everyone else in Israel, I was busy telling myself that we could count on our army, navy and air force. If we had to destroy Iran’s nuclear capabilities before they did any harm, well, so be it. Our government, especially headed by no-nonsense, security-minded Binyamin Netanyahu, would absolutely step up to the plate, whatever the diplomatic cost – right? After all, we’d done it twice before.

Well, it’s not that easy, according to Gordon.

Unlike the attack on Saddam Hussein’s reactor, Ahmadinejad had numerous secret facilities, one of them underneath a mountain.

That’s when I started to get really nervous; nervous enough to do some of my own research.

Michael Rubin, writing in Commentary last February, was also aware of the mountain, but unlike me it didn’t worry him: “It would suffice to destroy the entrances and exits to such facilities.” But he was worried – very worried – about some other things I hadn’t even thought of, as was Bret Stephens of The Wall Street Journal, who wrote in his column this past February: “Put simply, an Israeli strike on Iran would not just be a larger-scale reprise of the attacks that took out Iraq’s nuclear reactor in 1981 and Syria’s in 2007. On the contrary: if it goes well, it would look somewhat like the Six Day War of 1967 and if it goes poorly like the Yom Kippur War of 1973. Nobody should think we are talking about a cakewalk.”

Rubin not only agreed, he thought Stephens didn’t go far enough: “Even if Israeli pilots managed to fly into Iran with surprise, they would not be able to fly out with surprise… This means they would have to strike enemy airfields, surface-to-air missile batteries, command and control centers, and radars… more than 1,000 sorties.”

Most alarming, even if Israel were to succeed in knocking out the spinning centrifuges and the weapons and missile factories, given the determination of the present insane regime, they’d be up and running again in six months, tops.

So, what exactly are our options here? Before we can discuss that, let’s analyze how much time we have to dither before making a decision.

The Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, a non-profit and non-partisan organization based in Washington, believes that “the best way to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is to do so at the source: to cut off the supply of material, equipment and technology.” It has been monitoring Iran carefully and publishing its findings on its website, Iran- Watch, from which I learned the following astonishing information: Based on facts supplied by the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran has already stockpiled enough low-grade enriched uranium to fuel five nuclear bombs. All it needs to do is put what it already has back into the appropriate spinning machines until it’s been purified to 90% from the present 20%.

By the way – and not that anyone is interested – the knowledge that Iran has a stockpile of 20% enriched uranium, far past the 3.4% enrichment needed for peaceful purposes like, say, a nuclear power plant, should have enraged all those who have been sitting back politely and listening to Ahmadinejad’s fairy tales all these years.

You need about 16 kilograms of 90% enriched uranium (or U-235) to produce a nuclear implosion bomb. But, if you were so inclined, you could create a bomb with only seven kilo if you were satisfied with one “only” slightly less effective than the kind dropped on Hiroshima. So, how long would it take, given what we know the Iranians already have, for them to produce that amount? According to Iran Watch, “time needed to convert this low-enriched uranium to one bomb’s worth of finished uranium metal enriched to 90 percent U-235 [that’s assuming they want the big 16-kilo one]: 3-12 months.” But, for the puny little Hiroshima- type bomb… well, you do the math.

Thus, as we Jews and Israelis and decent human beings all over the world, including our children and grandchildren, lie in our beds naively asleep, Iranian centrifuges, like the wheels of the trains to Auschwitz, are turning and turning. They are making it possible for the man who has just called Israel a “pesky mosquito” and who denies the Holocaust to prepare a new one. In a month and a half, based on what the IAEA actually knows for sure, he can have a nuclear bomb. And I’d be willing to bet that the IAEA doesn’t know the half of it.

What then of negotiations? Sanctions? Well, the problem with negotiations is that the present framework is simply not addressing the scope of the problem. Negotiations that took place in April between the Iranian regime and the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany focused on what compromises could be reached to allow sanctions to be lifted against Iran. The conversation seems to be about getting world powers to recognize Iran’s right to enrich uranium to 3.5%, the power reactor level. Since it has already stockpiled enough uranium enriched to 20% to blow up the entire world – a bomb for the capital city of each of the negotiators – it’s hard to see how these talks can bear any fruit worth eating, except for Iran.

For as the powers talk and talk and eat their dinners and fly around the world in business class, the centrifuges under the mountain are spinning and spinning. We shall not even mention the satellite photos of the cleanup underway at the secret Parchin military site to hide the evidence of what apparently was the use of an explosives containment chamber of the type needed for testing nuclear arms. Even the IAEA is upset about that. In fact, it’s even convincing the unconvinceable that Iran’s nuclear aims aren’t peaceful. As for the sanctions, you can read on Iran Watch how the US isn’t able to enforce them.

So, my friends, what is the answer? Well, as far as time is concerned, we’ve basically run out. As far as bombing the nuclear facilities, I’m afraid surgical strikes that take out a few of the thousands of centrifuges hidden all over the place won’t do the trick either. The only real, long-term solution to an enemy as determined and genocidal as the present Iranian regime under Ahmadinejad is regime change.

It’s something the Iranian people seem to want. It’s something the entire world needs to ensure its safety. And it’s something the Israeli people cannot survive without. The price will be brutally high, but the alternative is unimaginable.

This article was published in the Jerusalem Post on 18 May 2012.

Spread the word. Share this post!

15 comments on “The Centrifuges Just Keep on Spinning”

  1. Shezi

    when is someone going to eipxaln the HUGE difference between energy class and weapons grade ? uranium enrichment doesn’t mean they are building nukes! isreal has enough nukes already to take iran off the map, so what the fuck is everyone so scared of?! PROPAGANDA at it’s finest! leading us to war under false reasons! THIS IS BULLSHIT!

  2. General Aladeen

    Good news for Hussein Obama – Wadiya has just bought all of Iran’s nuclear arsenal and will be converting it all into ploughshares real soon now. Nuclear powered ploughshares. Stupid swine-worshipping infidels, you will soon get what you deserve.

  3. peter paton

    Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu must grasp the nettle and instruct the IDF to take out Iran’s nuclear facilities now, otherwise the world may wake up very soon to find out that Shia Iran have conducted a successful underground nuclear test, enabling them to join the international nuclear club with the Muslim H Bomb. If this catastrophic scenario comes to fruition, life for ordinary Israelis, Americans, Europeans and Sunni Muslims will never be the same again.There is no time to waste, and the evidence that President Barack Hussein, himself of Shia Muslim stock, will never strike Iran is now both compelling and conclusive.The chaotic situation in Syria must be bypassed, and Bibi must cut off the head of the Iranian snake now, and place himself and Israel in a win win situation. Resolve the Iranian equation, and all equations will be resolved.

    The Obama administration’s reluctance and intransigence to stop a nuclear Iran is clearly indicated by four omissions:

    1. Washington has taken no action against Iran’s capture of the RQ-170 stealth drone on Dec. 4 more than a month after the event, and not even pressed President Obama’s demand of Dec. 12 for the drone’s return.
    Tehran, for its part, continues to make hay from the event: This week, our Iranian sources report, the Islamic Republic circulated a new computer game called “Down the RQ-170.” Players assemble the drone from the components shown on their screens and then launch it for attacks on America.

    2. Silence from Washington also greeted the start of 20-percent grade uranium enrichment at the underground Fordo facility near Qom when it was announced Jan. 9. Last November, Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned in two US TV interviews (Nov. 17 and 22) that as soon as the Fordo facility went on stream, Iran would start whisking the rest of its nuclear facilities into underground bunkers, out of reach and sight of US and Israeli surveillance.
    Barak made it clear at the time that Israel could not live with this development; therefore, the Netanyahu government believes Israel’s credibility is now at stake.
    3. Exactly three weeks ago, on Jan. 3 Lt. Gen. Ataollah Salehi, Iran’s Army chief, announced that the aircraft carrier USS Stennis and other “enemy ships” would henceforth be barred from entering the Persian Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz . Yet since then, no US carrier has put this threat to the test by attempting a crossing. Tehran has been left to crow.
    4. Even after approving sanctions on Iran’s central bank and energy industry, the White House announced they would be introduced in stages in the course of the year. According to Israeli’s calculus, another six months free of stiff penalties will give Iran respite for bringing its nuclear weapon program to a dangerous and irreversible level.

    Israel today finds itself in a perilous position on all fronts, with hostile and belligerent Arab nations surrounding it on all sides, with the spectacle of the Arab Spring likely to evolve into “a radical Muslim winter” on the backs of the spreading tentacles of the extreme Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi terror groups, raising the stakes for a “Total Blitzkreig War” in the Middle East” on the State of Israel and the distinct possibility of the unleashing of weapons of mass destruction in the process.With Iran on the verge of possessing nuclear weapons, giving the dangerously unstable President Ahmadinejad the means to launch an unprovoked Shoah attack on the Land of Israel, and the frightening events taking place in Libya, Syria and Egypt, coupled with the destabilizing uncertainty in Jordan, its not hard to imagine Israel could be on the Eve of Destruction, unless preemptive action was taken by the Israeli Defense Force to nip such cataclysmic developments in the bud.

    Israel’s security backyard in Sinai is deteriorating by the day, where the Army rulers in Egypt have dropped any attempt to root out Hamas, Al Queda and Muslim Brotherhood terrorists, despite their increasing use of this territory as a launch pad from which to launch devastating terror attacks on innocent Israeli civilians.The supply of arms and munitions to the Gaza Strip has since the Egyptian revolution swelled to an unprecedented volume. It gives Hamas and other terrorist groups massive quantities of surface missiles of greater range and power even than the Grads, which last month hit targets at a distance of 30 kilometers, such as Beersheba; F-7 anti-air and anti-tank missiles, raising the possibility that Israeli civilian airliners may now come under attack on the Egyptian front.In the north on the Lebanese border Hezbollah are massing its forces and rockets ready to wage all out war on Israel, and in Syria, circumstances are so unpredictable that a war could break out at any time.

    In Jordan, the situation is both tense and fractious, where King Abdullah II sacked his entire government in an attempt to appease street protests and avoid his country becoming the next Egypt or Tunisia under the thumb of the extreme Muslim Brotherhood. The situation in Libya is also becoming a ” hot potato ” to Israeli security as gunrunning from Libya is rampant, channeling large quantities of Libyan arms by smuggling routes into the Gaza Strip and Sinai, and the spectre of Al Queda and the Muslim Brotherhood taking power after Gaddafi is looming ever real.Meantime a pugnacious Turkey led by the extreme Muslim leader Erdogan is hell bent on punishing Israel for its refusal to apologize over the Gaza Flotilla incident, and is promising to send Turkish warships into the Mediterranean to confront Israel’s Navy, and possibly attack its ally Cyprus.

    The conglomeration and juxtaposition of these seismic events on its borders leaves Israel very exposed and vulnerable to simultaneous attack from avowedly hostile Islamist regimes whose ideology obliges them to wage jihad and destruction against the Jewish state.

    For Bibi, Israel and the Free World it is now or never. For tomorrow may be too late

    Peter Paton is an International PR and Strategic Adviser

  4. Samuel Burns

    Israel should attack Iran, in a coordinated attack comprising the Army, Air Force, and Navy; using all of the technology that can be brought to bear, including submarines. In this way, enough damage will be inflicted on the Fordo mountain facility, that the present day Hamans that rule Iran will realize that Israel is serious about them not having a nuclear bomb. If the head of the beast is severely damaged, perhaps the arms–Hamas and Hezbollah–will be ineffective.
    Israel is approaching the precipice. What awaits her? A nuclear war? Perhaps, but perhaps not. A full-fledged war, certainly. As Ms. Ragen says, “The price will be steep.” But if Iran achieves nuclear capability, World War III will come. Pray for Israel every day.

  5. Daveed Shachar

    Regime change is no solution at all. Iran had a pro-Western regime under the Shah, who was also friendly to Israel. Then the regime changed, and the new regime wants to destroy Israel. We have seen several Moslem regime changes in the past year. Any regime that becomes pro-Israeli can always change again, and become anti-Israeli. There are only two possible solutions: Force Iran to destroy its nuclear program, or destroy it for them.

    • Ruza

      The Israeli leader ceritanly does not hate Iranians, we have many Iranians living in Israel, and they’re my friends and like family! Very sadly, I think most of us just want to live & let live, like you, me and all the regular people. I can reassure you, us and our leaders desperately want to live in peace with everyone and all our neighbors. Our leaders have always offered to make peace treaties and are eager to exchange info in agriculture, technology, medicine & environment for the greater good of us all. We did achieve peace treaties with Jordan, Egypt and Turkey, which til recently seemed quite strong.We worked together for the greater good of all our peoples. But very sadly Ray, I don’t know how much info you can get where you are, but there’s this thing called anti-semitisim, and there always seems to be at least one leader who wants to illogically wipe us all off the map, no matter how much kindness, goodness and peace treaties we offer.I so wish we all could change your leader’s mind, but he very publicly announces to the whole world he wants to bomb us with nuclear bombs and wipe us and our country off the map. He is being the aggressor, and openly so, for the whole world to see. We’d LOVE peace, we’d LOVE if he changed his mind. But he hasn’t & doesn’t look like he will. Our leaders have no choice but to try and defend our whole people and country from genocide.From what many experts say, if our leaders don’t try to take out the nuclear facilities, it may get to the point of your leader having the capability of following through with his threats to attack us and the US as well as others.What would you do?! Our country carefully & in a very pinpointed attack took out the nuclear reactor in Iraq years ago preventing such a tragedy (imagine if Saddam Hussein had that weapon!) And recently did a pinpoint attack on the nuclear weapons facility in Syria (imagine seeing how Assad is murdering his own people how he would’ve followed through threats on us as well, he’s working with your leader on all of this, and Achmedinjad supports him even through the horrible genocide happening right now.Our leaders feel pressure they must take out nuclear weapons capabilities now before it’s too late. Do they or we or any of us want them to? NOT AT ALL!!! We really don’t want to do this, it’s horrible, we want to live in peace without the increasing threat of genocide! But we’ve lived through Stalin, Hitler, Hussein, and too many others to not take these threats lightly.Our country is very careful to only pinpoint military targets that threaten us, and bend over backwards to avoid innocent civilian population centers. But this is why we’ve been having such a hard time with the war on terror, we’re so careful to avoid civilian casualties, but our enemies don’t care and purposely target innocent civilians and use their own as human shields. It’s not been a fair fight, and ceritanly only started by the other side, we’re just on the defensive, we want peace!!!I truly hope & pray God will make miracles and no offensive or defensive war will take place on any side and we’ll only have world peace. Our hearts are totally with you, the innocent people, and want us all to live as brothers and sisters. I’m so glad you reach out and honestly share your thoughts. You should know we ALL don’t want war of any kind and are praying like crazy for peace and yours & our protection.

  6. M Hyman

    In “The Centrifuges Just Keep on Spinning,” you indicate that Rubin thinks that “Stephens didn’t go far enough.” Stephens states: “‘Even if Israeli pilots managed to fly into Iran with surprise, they would not be able to fly out with surprise… This means they would have to strike enemy airfields, surface-to-air missile batteries, command and control centers, and radars… more than 1,000 sorties.'”

    Did both Stephens and Rubin forget–or perhaps are unaware–that Israel now operates some of the worlds stealthiest submarines–underwater technology which way beyond the capacity of the Iranians to detect–submersibles capable of launching cruise missiles while submerged, including those of the nuclear warhead variety? Moreover, missiles such as these operate way below the detection ability of any radar system which the Iranians now own.

    Prophets of doom such as Rubin are assuming that an Israeli strike on Iran would be based on the Iraq mode; moreover, they predict that the probability of success is low. Frankly, the scenario reminds me of the Biblical account of Exodus–not necessarily the physical exit from Egypt itself but rather the murmurings of some among the Israelites who said afterwards that the whole thing was going to fail miserably–so lets go back to Egypt and beg them for mercy. Rubin would probably feel right at home among this group.

    • Rabbi Fleishig

      I wouldn’t describe either Mr. Stephens or Mr. Rubin as “prophets of doom.” It seems to me they are just pointing out the urgency of the situation and the difficulties in dealing with it. Even if Israel gets off a first strike that decimates the entire Iranian program, an unlikely scenario at best, there will be massive retaliation from Iran and its Hizballah and Syrian clients. So there is no fairy tale happy ending, no matter what we do. Nevertheless, neither of these men is suggesting that we go crawling to the Iranians and beg them to love us.

      • M Hyman

        “Nevertheless, neither of these men is suggesting that we go crawling to the Iranians and beg them to love us.”

        Of course they are. Additionally, they want the love of the European Socialists, the Obama Progressives, and the Islamic Caliphate dreamers along with their Marxist supporters.

        Frankly, I saw attitudes such as those of Stephens and Rubins during the creation of the Jewish State. Were opinions like these given credence at the time, the British would never have had a reason to leave!

        • Rabbi Fleishig

          There is a difference between saying “No, don’t do it, I’m afraid!” and saying “Do it if you have to, but be prepared for the consequences.” It’s naive and irresponsible to pretend that there will be none, that we will wake up the next morning to Paradise on Earth. People like us, who don’t have the responsibility of making critical decisions, can be all gung-ho damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead. The people who do make these decisions have to prepare for the day after. That’s all Mr. Stephens and Mr. Rubin are saying, and I agree with them. We have to do what we have to do, but let’s not deceive ourselves about what’s involved. With freedom comes responsibility.

          • M Hyman

            Of course it’s “naive and irresponsible” to believe that there will not be consequences. But this is clearly not “all Mr. Stephens and Mr. Rubin are saying, . . .” Far from it!

            What is, however, “irresponsible” are the musings of little drummer boys and girls who write ideologically far left obsurantist Op/Ed pieces.

            I wish that one could label them as “naive” but to do so would simply be a lie. To the student of the aberrations and monstrosities of man, the works of persons such as these will always be documents of value. We saw the results of their ideological ancestors back in 1938, Munich.

          • Auth

            we should bomb Israel and Larijani has celirfiad that it is not our policy and certainly not militarily. What he meant was that the good will prevail on evil in the end. This is a Shiite Islam worldview and is not literal nor is it immediate. The shiite Imams were killed centuries ago and the Shiite Islam is still in hope of eventual victory over those who have usurped their rule. However, the nuclear technology is of far more strategic importance without even being used for weapon development. Iran has no nuclear weapons and it is agreed among experts that they are not yet building weapons. The point is that I feel that the question of weapon development will never become crucial as we are going to be bombed far before the capabality is matured.So the whole point is? Well, everyone can form his or her opinion on why a counry chooses to go down the road to destruction. It is not easy to figure this out and it needs considerable knowledge about the world and most importantly about the people who live in this world. I have formed my own ideas.In my current old age there are very few things that can impress me, but still it is pleasantly interesting to be treated to kind words, good cop,,, you know what, it is the right thing to do, just like the war itself.

    • Taruna

      Let me clarify this for mylsef.Our leaders tell us that Israeli leaders hate us. Israeli leaders tell Israelis that Iranian leaders hate them even more. The leaders of Iran and Israel hate each other the best, or the worst actually. Iranian people and Israeli people, however, far from hating each other’s guts, love each other so much that they cannot resist exchanging messages conveying this deep and ancient love. To add some explosive fun to this cocktail of extreme hate and love, the leaders of Iran and Israel are expressing an urgent need to bomb the people of Israel and vaporize the people of Iran, reaspectively.Now, I am a very old man who has seen a lot from all corners of the world, but I must admit this is mindboggling situation is beyond my wildest dreams, or nightmares rather.

  7. Jaime Eisen

    Israel, without bombers, missiles or ground troops, destroyed an uranium concentration plant near Isfahan and a long range missile facility near Teheran back in November 2011. Hysterical Clinton, Panetta, Gutmnan and Friedman blasted Israel and made Israel stop this program. Israel also, using the same method, destroyed four weapons storage areas in Lebanon as a warning to Hezbolla of things to come if they attack Israel when Israel takes care of Iran. Imagine these weapons storage areas that are located in residential neighborhoods with thousands of Lebanese civilians dead and injured with collapse of apartment houses.

  8. John Shreffler

    Good article. If you haven’t see it, here’s what IAF is faced with, courtesy of Russia. Google Earth coordinates 34.9198, 50.7998 Looks like a new subdivision being laid out. Notice all those white concrete driveways, (launch pads, really) the garage right next to each is harder to see. It is corrugated steel, covered over with soil. Now that you recognize the S-300 installation, zoom out a bit and see how many. It is astounding. I count 688 in 100 square miles. Not all S-300s. What are they all guarding? That would be the two roads entering the mountain at 34.9439, 50.7597 Take care.

Comments are closed.

Discover more from Naomi Ragen נעמי רגן

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading