The UN’s nuclear watchdog has asked Iran to explain evidence suggesting that Iranian scientists have experimented with an advanced nuclear warhead design, the Guardian has learned.
The very existence of the technology, known as a “two-point implosion” device, is officially secret in both the US and Britain, but according to previously unpublished documentation in a dossier compiled by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iranian scientists may have tested high-explosive components of the design. The development was today described by nuclear experts as “breathtaking” and has added urgency to the effort to find a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis.
The sophisticated technology, once mastered, allows for the production of smaller and simpler warheads than older models. It reduces the diameter of a warhead and makes it easier to put a nuclear warhead on a missile. [continued…]
In his last month as head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei finds himself at the explosive crux of the world’s nuclear politics, ferrying messages between the Obama administration and Tehran. “They are talking through me,” he says.
Talking is something, even through a mediator, given all the poisonous U.S.-Iranian history, but time is short. President Obama’s Iran outreach is on the line in the days before ElBaradei departs on Nov. 30. It’s critical that Obama succeed or a futile confrontation-sanctions scenario will be locked in. Any vestigial hopes for a more peaceful Middle East will recede.
Protesters, Iran’s brave campaigners for a freer and more open country, are chanting, “Obama, Obama — either you’re with them or you’re with us.” That must hurt in the Oval Office. The window is narrowing for the president to show that outreach can normalize the psychotic U.S.-Iranian relationship where confrontation only comforts it. I still believe normalization is the last best hope for Iranian reform. [continued…]
An unassuming college math student has become an unlikely hero to many in Iran for daring to criticize the country’s most powerful man to his face.
Mahmoud Vahidnia has received an outpouring of support from government opponents for the challenge — unprecedented in a country where insulting supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is a crime punishable by prison.
Perhaps most surprising, the young math whiz has so far suffered no repercussions from the confrontation at a question-and-answer session between Khamenei and students at Tehran’s Sharif Technical University.
In fact, Iran’s clerical leadership appears to be touting the incident as a sign of its tolerance — so much so that some Iranians at first believed the 20-minute exchange was staged by the government, though opposition commentators are now convinced Vahidnia was the real thing. [continued…]