The situation with Iran and their nuclear program has been on the front of the world agenda for a long time now. It’s a rich history of accusations and denials. Now, to add to the fire, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta talked in a CBS interview about the fact that in his opinion, Iran could make a nuclear bomb inside of a year, which is sure to reignite the debate of whether that’s the case or not, and what to do about it, if anything. It’s not the first time that the subject was brought to the public’ attention, and will clearly not be the last either.
Iran’s nuclear ambitions are nothing new. The country has been working on various projects including radioactive materials for decades. In itself, refining uranium isn’t necessarily evil. In fact their claims have always been that they are building nuclear reactors to power their cities. The question of course is whether that’s true, or if they have a secret nuclear bomb program. For Defense Secretary Panetta, there’s no question about it, Iran has all the necessary tools and technology to start working on a bomb. It would apparently take them one year to manufacture enough radioactive material to create the bomb, and then up to another year to create the infrastructure to be able and aim it at any country in the world. He said that the US is fully prepared to stop them if they get the intelligence that they’re in process of doing that.
Of course, we don’t know what the intelligence currently says, and he did not specify any of it. Iran has always claimed that the rest of the world was mistaken, and that the only facilities they had was to create nuclear fuel for their reactors. The process is very similar, where there’s a need to get the base material pure enough to be used as a source of fuel. The difference is how pure it needs to be. For a reactor, this can be around 25% to 75%, whereas for a nuclear bomb, it needs to be higher than 95%. That’s a big difference, and why it’s much more complex to get enough fuel for a bomb. With many countries both in the western hemisphere and in Europe suspecting that Iran has every intention of developing a nuclear bomb, there’s no doubt that they have highly damning suspicions, but without any hard proof, it’s hard to know how things will proceed next.
The situation remains volatile, and this type of talk doesn’t help reassuring people. It seems likely that if proof were to come out of Iran’s true motives, then it may start yet another large scale war in the region, which would destabilize the area. Until then, countries stay on alert, and we all watch.