Iran: November 26, 2004


 After making a deal to suspend nuclear weapons development, Iran demanded that some of their uranium enrichment equipment be exempted from the deal. The Iranians want twenty of the centrifuges exempted from inspections, so that they can be used for continued research. Iran has 1,000 centrifuges, and planned to build 50,000 in order to create enough for several nuclear bombs a year. The original deal was unpopular with some Islamic radicals in the government. Keeping some of the centrifuges away from inspectors for continued nuclear weapons research appears to be a way to get the Islamic radicals to go along with the agreement. Twenty centrifuges are not enough to build a bomb, but working on further developing their technology enables the Iranians to make the centrifuges more efficient. This would allow fewer centrifuges to create enough enriched uranium for a bomb. Having nuclear weapons is popular with most Iranians, because it provides additional protection from ancient enemies like Russia. But some in the Iranian conservative leadership are outspoken about wanting to use nuclear weapons against Israel and the United States. The Iranian Islamic conservatives represent only about a quarter of the population, but the current constitution gives them a veto over any new laws, and control of the justice system and military. The Islamic conservatives want to make peace with the Europeans, so that they can import modern  weapons. Currently, their only source of weapons is China, and this stuff is much less effective than what they could get from Europe. Iran makes a lot of its own weapons, but these are generally no better than the stuff they can buy from China.


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