Despite the propaganda and the disinformation currently being dispensed by the governments of Israel and the United States, which paint Iran as an imminent threat only months away from testing a nuclear device, Iran is a very, very long way from producing enough bomb grade nuclear material needed to make even one small explosive device, much less bombs that can be used as the warheads of ballistic missiles. How far away? The Guardian, in this report, lays bare the details of the true nature of Iran’s nuclear program as a primitive, chaotic shambles:

Iran’s uranium enrichment programme has been plagued by constant technical problems, lack of access to outside technology and knowhow, and a failure to master the complex production-engineering processes involved. …

Despite Iran being presented as an urgent threat to nuclear non-proliferation and regional and world peace – in particular by an increasingly bellicose Israel and its closest ally, the US – a number of Western diplomats and technical experts close to the Iranian programme have told The Observer it is archaic, prone to breakdown and lacks the materials for industrial-scale production.

Peter Beaumont, foreign affairs editor of the Guardian, writes that there are a number of reasons for Iran’s current setbacks with respect to the uranium enrichment technology it is seeking to master, the P-1 and P-2 centrifuge designs obtained from Pakistan. First, it can no longer obtain the necessary “high quality bearings required for the centrifuges’ carbon-fibre ‘top rotors’ – spinning dishes within the machines – from foreign companies in Malaysia.” Those sources dried up two years ago, and Iran has been trying to manufacture the needed bearings itself, but has repeatedly failed in its attempts to do so.

Second, Iran is short of other critical materials needed for making enough of these centrifuges to be able to create a cascade of sufficient size to create highly enriched bomb grade uranium. Among these are adequate supplies of the specialized steel which doesn’t deform under stress and at high temperatures, as well as other specialized carbon fiber products, which the centrifuge design they are using requires.

Beaumont reports than many experts see the Iranian government’s claim that very soon it will have a working 3000 centrifuge cascade online as primarily intended for domestic propaganda purposes, with little basis in reality:

The reality is that they have got to the stage where they can run a small experimental centrifuge cascade intermittently,’ said one Western source familiar with the Iranian programme. ‘They simply have not got to the stage where they can run 3,000 centrifuges There is no evidence either that they have been stockpiling low-enriched uranium which could be highly enriched quickly and which would give an idea of a malevolent intent.’

Another source with familiarity with the Iranian programme said: ‘Iran has put all this money into this huge hole in the ground at Natanz; it has put a huge amount of money in these P-1 centrifuges, the model rejected by Urenco. It is like the Model T Ford compared to a Prius. That is not to say they will not master the technology eventually, but they are trying to master very challenging technology without access to everything that they require.’

With the nuclear smuggling operation established by Pakistan’s leading nuclear scientist A. Q. Khan (currently under house arrest in Pakistan) now severely limited, Iran’s program has suffered. The Iranians relied heavily on the technology, designs and assistance he provided. Without that assistance, thus far they have been unable to take the critical steps needed to reach the stage where they can produce weapons grade nuclear material.

In recognition of the true state of affairs regarding the Iranian program, the head of the IAEA, the UN nuclear proliferation watchdog, which continues to maintain 150 inspectors in Iran to monitor its nuclear activities, recently has tried to “calm the waters” which have been roiled by the recent spate of disinformation regarding the imminent threat Iran poses to Israel and the US.

Talking to the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, Mohamed El Baradei appealed for all sides to take a ‘time out’ under which Iranian enrichment and UN sanctions would be suspended simultaneously, adding that the point at which Iran is able to produce a nuclear weapon is at least half a decade away. In pointed comments aimed at the US and Israel, the Nobel Peace prize winner warned that an attack on Iran would have ‘catastrophic consequences’.

I feel we are in the end game between those who seek to attack Iran militarily (the leaders of the Israeli government and the Bush/Cheney administration), and those, like El Baradei and many in the US Congress in both parties, who seek to forestall such a calamitous event. In Iraq, the Bush administration prevailed, despite a lack of evidence of any real threat from Saddam Hussein’s regime, because they won the propaganda war, i.e., the war fought to control the media narrative that was being “told” to the American and British publics.

We are seeing the same propaganda war being fought again with respect to Iran. On one hand, we have those (Bush, Cheney, Rice, Lieberman, neoconservative pundits and sympathizers in the media, etc.) whom either lied to and/or misled major American news outlets, and through them the American people, about the danger that Iraq posed to us in the wake of 9/11. The same story lines that were used to hype an attack on Iraq are being employed again regarding the danger Iran poses to us now (rogue nation, major terrorist supporter, weapons of mass destruction, an oppressive regime ripe for being overthrown, et alia) The same truth tellers who were right about Iraq in 2003 (and dismissed at the time by the Beltway’s Gang of 500) are standing up and stating that the threat of Iran’s nuclear program is a chimera, based on all the evidence and knowledge regarding Iran we currently possess.

Who will win this war of facts versus lies? The very future of our country, and indeed the world itself, may hinge upon the outcome of this “information war” in which we, the American people, are clearly the intended target. Let’s hope for all our sakes that this time we can resist the warmongers, whose lies play to our baser instincts of fear and hatred, and instead listen to those whose only weapons against these liars are rational arguments based upon objective facts. In short let’s pray that reason prevails over emotion.

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