This Is Not Good
A defiant Iran resumed full operations at its uranium conversion plant Wednesday, as Europe and the United States struggled to find a way to stop the Islamic republic from pushing ahead with a nuclear program they fear will lead to weapons of mass destruction.
With United Nations inspectors watching, Iranian officials removed U.N. seals that had been placed voluntarily on equipment at the facility eight months ago when Tehran agreed to freeze most of its nuclear program.
Technicians then immediately resumed work on the process that turns raw uranium into gas for enrichment.
Iran's playing a game of chicken. This isn't full uranium enrichment they're doing here; it's an earlier step down the road. But they're daring the US to make an economic or military response, while staying ideologically pure by claiming that it's their right as a sovereign nation to convert uranium for peaceful purposes. They know all too well that the US is bogged down in Iraq, and that we'll likely have to play around the margins without making a meaningful response. They also know that Russia and China will leap to their aid in the UN Security Council, should the NATO powers attempt to impose sanctions.
This is exactly why the Iraq war was so dangerous and wrong-headed. It ignored the real trouble spots in the world, and it gave Iran some serious power leverage in the Middle East. If we attacked Iran tomorrow, I'm not sure Iraq would be on our side.
And don't expect Israel to bail us out of this one, either:
On Wednesday, security was tight around the complex, with plainclothes security agents shooing journalists away from the front gates.
Parts of the facility were built in tunnels in the mountains as protection from airstrikes. Tehran learned a lesson from the 1981 Israeli airstrike against Iraq's main nuclear reactor. Iran has spread its facilities over several locations, each with underground installations.
They're dug in, and they've been preparing for this for years. We know the Iranians lied about how far along they were at creating the bomb before. That's when a reformer was President. Now the hardliners control everything.
This is what they call "the law of unintended consequences."