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iamthemob's avatar

Are you worried about Iran's nuclear developments?

Asked by iamthemob (17147points) August 30th, 2010

Recently Iran got its nuclear power plant up and running, and within the year has claimed they will have refined enough uranium to fuel the station. Refined uranium can, of course, be used for nuclear weapons if it is at the weapons-grade level. This level is far more refined than that required for the plant.

Are people concerned about nuclear proliferation in Iran? Are there any good sources to recommend to keep up on the issue? What do you think is the appropriate response from the United States or the International Community?

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63 Answers

Winters's avatar

Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if Israel destroys Iran’s nuclear power plant, much like they did with Iraq’s and Syria’s. But yes, I think this a a potentially dangerous issue which unfortunately seems that the only way the US is going to approach this is by treading softly. Unless, somewhere down the line, we expand the War on Terror to Iran, then it’ll get ugly very fast.

Ben_Dover's avatar

I thought we were friends with Iran now. Has that already changed again?

iamthemob's avatar

@Ben_Dover

Man, that changes like daily it seems. I feel very very 1984 about the whole Iraq/Iran situation.

@Winters

I feel like treading softly now is the right decision. We’re pushing an end to dependence on oil generally and Gulf Oil particularly. And here’s IRAN (technically) exploring alternative energy sources. I feel like any reaction which indicates we want to control how they run their infrastructural decisions would be way too intrusive.

I would like an eye kept on what’s going on, but I’m concerned that this is something the radical right is going to latch onto to distract from other issues.

Ltryptophan's avatar

I think we should wait like 5 years after we wind down Iraq…take a break for a year or three, and then deal with Iran.

Winters's avatar

@Ltryptophan where does Afghanistan fit into that picture?

Ltryptophan's avatar

@Winters Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq….same conflict.

Iraq has some foible strength, so I think it is at least a good spot for a partial withdrawl for giving the troops a chance to recuperate. Afghanistan no such luck. That is an important front.

Ben_Dover's avatar

I’m sorry @Ltryptophan, but what is so important about Afghanistan? Other than the poppies we are taking for the opiates and the oil pipelines we are protecting?

Ltryptophan's avatar

Seed ground for terrorist not just poppies…entry reason. Nearness to two unstable nuclear powers. Strategic value to mother russia. Shared Border with Iran.

Those are all very good reasons to maintain our presence until the region is stabilized. We can deal with this now while we have any handle on it, or we can deal with it later when we have no handle on it.

Always best to take care of the problem in its smallest state.

Ben_Dover's avatar

I hope you enjoy blowing trillions of dollars on deabatably wasted effort.

Winters's avatar

@Ben_Dover who knows? We’ll probably end up looking back and say, “Thank God we blew trillions of dollars there, things would’ve been real ugly now if we hadn’t.”

Ltryptophan's avatar

@Ben_Dover sadly, war is usually profitable.

iamthemob's avatar

I feel like it’s less profitable to us now….it seems to me that war is profitable for nations with strong material-production economies. We don’t really manufacture any more…and I feel like that’s where the profit is….

Winters's avatar

Actually in some ways, it still is (especially in the medical field), we may be able to expect a super antibiotic available to civilian doctors sometime after this mess is all over.

iamthemob's avatar

@Winters

Of course there will always be profit to be made in war. I just think that much of it now is probably exported to other countries…(I have NO evidence on this, I’m thinking about it).

Hawkeye's avatar

I’m more concern with North Korea

Ltryptophan's avatar

@hawkeye are you making a joke about mash?

jerv's avatar

Iran is tricky since there is a hell of a generational gap. On the old side, you have anti-Western hardliners, and on the young side you have the people who will be running the place in a few years and are generally friendlier to the Western world and our “wild” lifestyle. And somewhere in the middle, you have politicians who don’t want civil unrest and want what is best for their nation as a whole.

The truth is that the only hard part about building a nuclear reactor is getting the fuel; most college campuses have the skills and material to make one. And what you need for a power plant may or may not be even close to “weapons grade”, depending on the reactor design.

My take on it is that if Iran truly wants to be nuclear solely for the cheap energy then there are ways to make that happen without them getting their hands on anything that could be weaponized, but given the way the US has treated Cuba for all these years, I doubt that any sane, rational course of action will take place if the US has their say.

Besides, if Iran does become a real threat, Israel has the intelligence, airpower, and skill to drink Iran’s milkshake. I take the fact that Iran doesn’t have any smoking craters due to Israeli action as another sign that there isn’t much to worry about.

SeventhSense's avatar

Hell ya. They’re completely whacked. They can’t be trusted. Israel will move against them with our backing though and Armageddon will begin. Good Times..

tinyfaery's avatar

I don’t see how any country with nuclear weapons has any say over who else gets to have them. America is way too involved in the affairs of others.

jerv's avatar

@tinyfaery You mean that you don’t understand that humanity is inherently egotistical? Galileo was considered a heretic because he did not believe that the Earth, home to humanity, was the physical center of the Universe!

Hawkeye's avatar

@Ltryptophan Sure, why not. Kim Il whateverhisnameis, is a complete nut and a jokers dream. I wonder about his hair stylist.

Ltryptophan's avatar

If me and my buddy are dinosaur tamers, and we live in the same neighborhood and know how professional we are about our dinosaurs, no big deal.

If a new guy shows up. Sees our dinosaurs, and wants one so bad he goes out and gets one even though he is not someone you want to see with a dinosaur, then me and my buddy we’re gonna go shut him down because dinosaurs are no fun to own and we wouldn’t even have them if we didn’t have to.

And if I find out my other buddy helped this genius get a dinosaur I’m going to go have a word with him too.

jerv's avatar

@Ltryptophan So, you prefer starting a war over education?

Ltryptophan's avatar

I do not follow jerv. help me out.

jerv's avatar

@Ltryptophan To continue your analogy about the dinosaur, how about teaching them the proper care and feeding practices for dinosaurs? How to feed them, handle them, etcetera. And show them a breakdown of the costs (in time, money, and effort) required to do things right.

I want a tiger, but I am not ready to shell out the $$$ for just the sheer amount of raw meat they need, let alone the other hassles and expenses involved.

Back to Iran, bear in mind what I said earlier about them being a split country. We may not want the old regime to have even a slingshot, but what about the “young blood”? Diplomacy may be an option. There are parts of the Middle East that do not hate us, and Iran is far from homogeneous, so it may be possible to gain an ally.

Besides, there is always Plan B, but it seems that we often resort to the military option first. Why not give something else a try? Worst case scenario is that it’ll buy us time to overhaul our logistics; time we’d need to re-align ourselves since we are already spread rather thin. But if we play our cards right then that won’t be necessary.

Ltryptophan's avatar

All Noble. I think the situation is not as peacable as you might imagine. I think but do not know that the world sometimes hovers right above doom. A few missteps, a slight holding of the hand, and it could all go terribly wrong. When a small group wants to play circus, then it is time for us to play wild west.

Ron_C's avatar

I think that if the Republican regain power, the U.S. will start a war with Iran, that is how conservatives handle conflict. Of course it will be a pointless war like Iraq and Afghanistan. Personally, I think that we should apologize to Iran about how previous regimes treated them and work on closer ties with their young people. The old idiots will scream and holler, so let them, they’ll die soon. We need to stop being a country that solves its problems by conquest and becoming one that uses reason.

The truth is that Iran is running out of oil and wants to sell it rather than use it. I think nuclear power is a wise choice along with solar power to free up their remaining oil. The main objection to the project comes from the conservatives that are upset because a country is thinking ahead instead of supporting the conservative status quo. What conservatives hate most is independent, forward thinking.

Ltryptophan's avatar

I am a conservative, and what I hate most is my friend Ron C being vaporized because some wise guy far away had beef with my country and decides to sell a small nuclear device to the lowest bidder, while my country twiddled its thumbs and watched them put the thing together.

Ron_C's avatar

@Ltryptophan not going to happen from Iran. It would more likely been sold by the Russian mafia or North Korea. I think you all are focusing too much on the middle east. Oil seems to be the root of all evil.

Remember Bush’s nuclear threat excuse? If you want to punish someone, why not put that war criminal in jail?

woodcutter's avatar

I think Iran with “the bomb” is going to be something we are going to have to live with.

Ron_C's avatar

@woodcutter can you blame them for wanting a nuclear bomb. They have Israel on one side and Pakistan on the other. There is nothing preventing one Muslim fundamentalist from blowing up another. Actually, Muslims are more likely to be killed by other Muslims than westerners or Jews.

On top of that Iranians are not Arabs, they’re Persians and see themselves as more European than Arabic and I can agree with that. Iranians believe that they are the natural leaders for the region and it is ethnic, not religious warfare that is likely.

I suggest that we stand aside and deal with the winners, It is likely to be the Persians, they are much more civilized than the Arabs.

JLeslie's avatar

@Ron_C Interesting take.

woodcutter's avatar

Iran is going to have the bomb. That is all there is to that. Somehow they are going to put a small faction up to detonating it probably Hezbollah or some other. The Iranian leadership is not going to fool anyone with “hey it wasn’t us” as Israel becomes an uninhabitable smoking hole. Iran is going to be vaporized anyway after that. There will be nothing the Chinese or the Russians will be able to do either way….Bang, done.

SeventhSense's avatar

@woodcutter
Are you sure about that
Can you say BEST AIR FORCE IN THE WORLD? Not to mention their highly trained and effective militia.
How about in 1967 when in SIX DAYS, Israel had seized the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria. I think quite the contrary to annihilation, before the silo is opened to release a rocket Israeli intelligence will have eliminated the site. Israel never sleeps.

woodcutter's avatar

@SeventhSense It’s not going to come from a rocket. Nope that wouldn’t be nearly covert enough. I would guess a wheeled vehicle ala OKC. Or maybe an underground way in. I agree if the conventional delivery was attempted it wouldn’t get off the ground. When ( or if, probably when) it happens it will be a suicide mission and Tel Aviv might be out of reach but it will be bad enough no matter where it goes off. Then it is on.

Ltryptophan's avatar

Suit me up, I’m going in!

woodcutter's avatar

@Ltryptophan Ha! you probably won’t need to go far. If a bomb does go off it likely will be part of a bigger thing because that will be the last chance whoever lights it off will have. I’m going out on a limb and predict there will be some damage stateside the same day and other places too. Gonna be a mess. Dust off that bucket list buddy.

jerv's avatar

@Ltryptophan I forgot… Timothy McVeigh was a foreigner. And it is exactly that “Wild West” mentality that causes a lot of anti-American sentiment abroad. Our support of Israel and the fact that the US vetoes any attempt the UN makes at bringing Israel to heel when they step over the line really hurts us in the Middle East, so we truly are causing our own problems there.

But I am not advocating turning a blind eye here; that would be fucking stoooooopid. What I am saying is that Iran is an odd case that may be best handled with less forceful means. We have options with Iran that we don’t have with North Korea, and Psy-ops have more of a blast radius than a MOAB.

While I am more of a moderate, I often agree with @Ron_C myself, and this case is no different. I don’t think Iran will be the one to sell a muclear weapon to the highest bidder. If nothing else, it’s not like they are rally that hard to make, so you pretty much only have to worry about the people who sell weapons-grade fissile materials, and last I checked, there was a small Asian nation with a wacked-out leader, a brainwashed population, and a few reactors already online. However, since Asia =/= Middle East, we seem to be unwilling to just march right in at the drop of a hat, consequences be damned, than we are against the same area we’ve been invading since The Crusades.

iamthemob's avatar

The discussion on the sale of nuclear arms is interesting, and one I hadn’t thought of. Along those lines, what about willfull blindness to rogue terrorist regimes within the nations borders? One thing that I think at least partially addresses the sale fear is the fact that it draws a direct line of liability to the state selling the weapons to those who would use it. When nations simply allow for groups to use their land as launching points of attacks, it’s less clear (although there are treaties meant to prevent such inaction).

I also ask, does anyone think that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which Iran is a party, makes this less of a concern? Doesn’t this give us a legal means of monitoring what’s going on? North Korea of course comes to mind again…

SeventhSense's avatar

@jerv
What do you mean not hard to make? They are extremely difficult to make or every rogue element on earth would have them. Enriching uranium is only the bare bones beginning of a nuclear device.

iamthemob's avatar

@SeventhSense
I do think you have that reversed…weapons grade enriched uranium is really difficult to get (in terms of refinement or the acquisition of what has already been refined). Once you have the material, the bomb is just a bomb…you can pretty much figure out how to build the device by using really common research methods…and it pretty much can be built by anyone (as we saw in the Manhattan Project). The reason why they do not have them is more accurately described by stating it’s because every rogue element in the world cannot get their hands on any, or a sufficient amount of, weapons grade uranium.

This is partially why there was a real concern about “dirty bombs”, which would explode and disperse radioactive material. If that radioactive material was of weapons grade and in sufficient amount, the concern would have been very different.

SeventhSense's avatar

@iamthemob
Ok well I’ll buy one from you when it’s done.

iamthemob's avatar

@SeventhSense

Uhm…what? When what’s done and why or how would I have it?

jerv's avatar

@SeventhSense “They are extremely difficult to make”

Define “extremely difficult”. Some say that setting up and running a CNC machine is difficult. Some say the same of replacing the head gasket on a car, fixing the FSTAB for Linux, or making your own amplifier. Learning the ins and outs of a Naval nuclear reactor was difficult, but not extremely so. There are things that I do find “extremely difficult”, but everybody is different.

There are people out there smarter than I am, so I find it not out of the realm of possibility that some individual could build a nuclear weapon (minus fissionables), and even more possible that a group of specialists could collaborate to do so.

And “dirty bombs” are far easier to make though almost equally difficult to get the materials for so you have a lot more to worry about there. Of course, there are biological weapons that are even easier to acquire, and while they are less effective than nukes (about on-par with dirty bombs) they still get the job done.

Let us not forget about propaganda. You don’t need any weapon other than a webcam to get millions of people to hit the ground in convulsions, fall to pieces, or just have a massive coronary. And in that regard, Fox News is a bigger threat than Iran could ever dream of being.

Ron_C's avatar

At the risk of repeating the obvious, compared to anyother middle eastern country, Iran is the most stable, has the youngest population, and is probably the least likely to attack Israel. Iran has much more to fear from it’s Muslim neighbors. The state of that religion is about like Christianity at the beginning of the protestant revolution. Various sects broke off and were viciously slaughtered by the dominant sect. More Muslims are killed by different brand Muslims than by Western or Israeli military action. Iran need a defence system to protect them from Pakistan, possibly India, Turkey, some factions in Iraq, and the Taliban who would like to bring the entire world under their strict and vicious religious interpretations.

I am also sure that Iran understands that it is in their best interest to maintain strict control of their nuclear capabilities.

On the other hand you have a throughly corrupt and sociopathic government in North Korea that will sell anything of value to anyone with money. Then there are the Russian gangs who have unemployed KGB members, high ranking ex-military and even special forces working for them. They have access to nuclear material and the Russian government is vainly trying to contain them. What we should really be doing is insuring that there is an Iron curtain around Korea to prevent them from selling to terrorists and working to secure the nuclear material in Russia. Both programs already exist, they just need to be expanded.

We need to back off the middle east, and spend our money on programs that are rational and have a chance to work.

SeventhSense's avatar

@jerv
Look there’s a lot of hype and fear mongering about nuclear bombs but that’s all it is,hype. If they were that easy to make we wouldn’t need the brightest minds in the world to make these things, nor decades for rich nations to acquire them. If any bright technician could assemble them we would have 9/11’s every day. And since there isn’t, it must be assumed that there is far more complexity than imagined.

Ron_C's avatar

This whole discussion seems similar to the run-up to the Iraq war. First you create an enemy, then you arm them with nuclear weapons, then you have a really good excuse to invade a country. In turn you create a whole host of enemies, terrorists, and new powers for the Federal government. If we leave Iran alone, that are much more likely to become our partners in fighting the real religious crazies.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Ron_C
I agree that there are many in Iran who want peace and a democratic state but I don’t see it happening until the leaders are deposed.

jerv's avatar

@SeventhSense Assume what you want. I have no need to imagine what I have actually seen.

You are correct in that building a nuclear weapon is not something that can be done in a garage the same way you could make an IED since there are some bits of highly specialized equipment and some hard-to-get materials involved.
You are also correct in that such a project really couldn’t be funded by an organization with a net worth much smaller than that of Microsoft.
However, it is not impossible, at least not for the reasons you seem to think.

Of course, if we avoid hitting a hornets nest with a stick for a few more years, the regime will change itself. Why depose the leaders is most of them will be decomposing within a decade or so anyways? Unless Iran has a secret “Fountain of Youth” project going on as well. And if the hardliners all die of old age and get replaced with friendlier faces, then Iran’s nuclear capability is far less of an issue, which will leave us better able to deal with more realistic/likely threats like North Korea.

@Ron_C Yeppers!

Ron_C's avatar

@SeventhSense
@jerv has a point. The “Dear Leader” of N. Korea is getting ready or may have already appointed his son as the country’s next leader. That makes three generations of assholes with successive generations worst than the first. The N. Korean “leader” is considered a god in his own country because of 50 years of brainwashing.

Who know Kim Jr. may believe his own B.S. This is a much greater danger than Iran has ever posed.

Iran does not want to attack the U.S., they want to be the leader of the middle east and probably Turkey too. They can’t do that if the capital is a smoking hole in the ground. They have every incentive to make nice with the west and the middle east certainly needs a sane honest leader.

SeventhSense's avatar

@jerv
When has the US ever avoided a hornet’s nest and let something take its course. We love stirring things up. :)

SeventhSense's avatar

@Ron_C
The problem is that the leaders of Iran are nothing less than absolutely detrmined to have war with Israel. Sentiment like this objective AP report is the true face of the leaders of Iran. There is no gray area here. They are a danger to Israel and the region and do not want to co exist. Something has to give eventually.
And yes they have as much of a hatred of the US as Israel.

SeventhSense's avatar

@jerv
Whatever. In this case the evidence (or lack of evidence of nukes) is clearly in favor of my argument.

iamthemob's avatar

@SeventhSense

Which argument though?

If you’re saying “Nuclear weapons are hard to build” I agree.

If you’re saying “The only reason why they aren’t built is because it would be too hard even if they had the uranium” I don’t see how…

jerv's avatar

@iamthemob Nor do I. Maybe if he saw what is really required, and knew a little more about Uranium (both in science and in logistics), things would be different. The simple truth is that the requirements for and output of a power plant are quite different from what you need for any weapon other than a “dirty bomb”.

SeventhSense's avatar

@jerv
You’re absolutely right. I am not a physicist nor are you. Please show me these dirty bombs showing up all over the world.

iamthemob's avatar

@SeventhSense

Uhm…I don’t understand what that would prove.

jerv's avatar

@SeventhSense No, I’m not a physicist; just an ex-sailor who has some training dealing with nuclear reactors (Power School sucks!) and a few friends who dealt with nuclear weapons.

As for the dirty bombs, the fact that there are not dirty bombs popping up left and right should clue you in as to how hard it is to get even the unrefined nasty radioactive stuff, and refining them to even powerplant grade is something that really requires the resources of a mid-sized national government.

For all practical purposes, making any sort of nuclear weapon is impossible for a non-government group, but not a nation. If you have been reading, you will notice that this is not the first time I have said that, but you haven’t shown any indication of grasping that fact yet either. You appear to be clinging to the “it’s impossible!” line citing reasons that aren’t true while ignoring the other facts that make your conclusion true even though you arrived at it based on false premises.

SeventhSense's avatar

@jerv
I never said it was impossible just difficult. And I concede that Iran has these very aims. We’re debating a non issue.
Actually it was @iamthemob
who said, “you can pretty much figure out how to build the device by using really common research methods…and it pretty much can be built by anyone (as we saw in the Manhattan Project).”
As if those involved in the Manhattan Project were common. These were extraordinary individuals whose collective intelligence was staggering.

iamthemob's avatar

@SeventhSense

Wow. I was talking about The Manhattan Project, the 1980s movie about a homemade nuclear weapon.

Really? Why would I be talking about a group of ridiculously brilliant scientists to support an assertion that the construction of a basic weapon is not hard?

SeventhSense's avatar

@iamthemob
There was one definitive Manhattan Project
The better question is why would you use a Hollywood movie as the basis of a highly speculative argument at all?
Maybe you can build a woman from your computer like in Weird Science

iamthemob's avatar

It’s not speculative. Trust me. Do a google search to try to figure it out on your own.

If you do a google search on the process behind building a real live woman with your computer and a doll…you might find it more difficult.

I figured it out in about 2.75 seconds. Which is why I’m glad that weapons grade uranium is difficult to make and that’s why everyone doesn’t have their own nuke. It’s disturbingly simple.

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