Western mainstream media outlets are emphasizing a recent announcement that Iran will begin enriching uranium at an underground facility designed to withstand air-strikes.
The Fordo facilities south of Tehran are protected beneath nearly 300 feet of mountain rock—far beyond what even the largest “bunker-buster” bombs are thought to be able to penetrate.
Despite being presented as fresh news, UN inspectors visited the site in October of 2009 and it was reported by the very same new agencies that the Fordo site would be operational in 18 months and that Iran had built the facilities specifically to protect its nuclear operations from U.S. or Israeli attacks.
In the past, Iran enriched uranium only to 5 percent, but recently increased its output to 20 percent enriched—it says, for medical purposes.
Western outlets keep pressing the fear of nuclear weapons, which requires a much greater 90 percent enrichment.
Despite the media and many politicians, American analysts have said Iran is nowhere close:
Iran is running out of the 19.75 percent enriched uranium needed to power Tehran’s research reactor, Sharon Squassoni, director of the Proliferation Prevention Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said in a phone interview.
Only Argentina and France make this type of fuel, she said. Weapons-grade uranium is at least 90 percent enriched and power-plant fuel is enriched about 3 percent to 5 percent, she said. . . .
Iran’s development of a nuclear fuel rod for medical research isn’t a milestone in a quest for atomic weapons, according to energy analysts in the U.S.
“This has some diplomatic significance and virtually no military significance,” James Acton, a senior associate in the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace inWashington, said yesterday in a telephone interview.