Surprising Build Up In Centrifuges At Natanz

About: ABC News: Iran Nuclear Bomb Possible by 2009

Event first noticed on Drudge 4/3/7 early AM
source: Brian Ross and Christopher Isham of ABC News reports that
Iran has more than tripled its ability to produce enriched uranium in the last three months, adding some 1,000 centrifuges which are used to separate radioactive particles from the raw material.

The development means Iran could have enough material for a nuclear bomb by 2009, sources familiar with the dramatic upgrade tell ABC News.
They quote "sources familiar with the dramatic upgrade".  Watch it on ABC News.

President Bush was also questioned today about this report:

source: President Bush Makes Remarks on the Emergency Supplemental April 3, 2007

Q (Martha) Back to Iran, sir. ABC has been reporting that Iran will be capable of building a nuclear bomb within two years. Have you seen evidence that Iran is accelerating its nuclear program?

THE PRESIDENT: I haven't seen the report that you just referred to. I do share concerns about Iranian intention to have a nuclear weapon. I firmly believe that if Iran were to have a nuclear weapon, it would be a seriously destablizing influence in the Middle East. And therefore, we have worked to build a international coalition to try to convince the Iranians to give up their weapon, to make it clear that they have choices to make -- whether the choice be isolation, or missed opportunity to grow their economies. And so we take your -- we take the

-- we take seriously the attempts of the Iranians to gain a nuclear weapon.

Q Have you seen an acceleration, though?

THE PRESIDENT: I'm not going to talk about any intelligence that I've seen one way or the other. But I do want you to know how seriously we take the Iranian nuclear issue. As a matter of fact, it is the cornerstone of our Iranian policy. It is -- and that's why we spend a lot of time in working with friends, allies, concerned people to rally international support, to make it clear to the Iranian people that there is a better option for them.

Now, we have no problem, no beef with the Iranian people. We value their history; we value their traditions. But their government is making some choices that will continue to isolate them and deprive them of a better economic future. So we take the issue very seriously.

The blogosphere responds ... 

source: Sean-Paul

How did such a patently bogus article get through the editors at ABC news?
 the article has one source, and one source alone
But if you go back and look at the record and see how long it has taken for Iran to get where they are you realize what garbage this article is. We've been expecting Iran to install 3,000 centrifuges for some time. And now that they've installed 1/3 that number we're going to blow it up into a crisis? First it was 3,000 centrifuges that make up the red line, now it's 1,000?
Pathetic and shoddy and meant only to excite our emotions.

Update 4/5/7  From a different channel we hear a different story
source: CBS News: Assessing Irans Nuclear Program
Sources familiar with the Iranian program told CBS News that although new centrifuges had been installed, they were not yet operational. Nuclear fuel for enrichment at the underground plant remains under IAEA seal, and no enrichment has been attempted or taken place.

In spite of the installation of additional centrifuges, CBS News has learned that neither the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, nor the Director of National Intelligence have changed their estimates of when Iran could have a nuclear weapon. The time frame most often mentioned is 2012-2015.

Update 4/8/7 Perhaps we are about to discover the source of this story.
source: Reuters: Iran set to announce nuclear plans on Monday
Diplomats speculate President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad could announce that Iran has installed more centrifuges, the machines used in the enrichment process, at the Natanz facility in central Iran. But Iranian officials have been tightlipped.
and on 4/9/2007 there were lots of reports from Natanz. 

Update 4/11/2007
source: Aghazadeh, the head of Irans atomic energy organisation
"The objective of the Islamic Republic of Iran is not just the installation of 3,000 centrifuges at the Natanz plant but we are doing everything to install 50,000 centrifuges.  ... [I] did not disclose at a ceremony yesterday the number of centrifuges Iran has installed at a massive underground facility in Natanz as [I] did not want to create ambiguities about Iran


  1. iran
  2. nukes
  3. events
  4. dogs of war
  5. natanz
  6. yellowcake
  7. drudge
  8. abc
  9. david albright
  10. iran strike
  11. npt
  12. nuclear proliferation


Mark de LA says
Well the yellowcake episode has been politicized & polarized beyond anyone's attempt to get to the truth, FastBlogIt notwithstanding. The article ratchets up the concerns (the eek!  factor) about Iran's nukes, even after the recent sanctions by the UN against Iran. In the recent PR move described in 6150 Iran seems to be afraid of more sanctions & softened the rhetoric for the moment.  Diplomacy won for the moment, though war may live to fight another day.

Mark de LA says
The worries about Iran having a nuke are from Ahmadinejad bluster about wiping Israel off the map. A worthwhile worry considering their backing of Syria & Hezbollah whose aims are similar.  Personally, except for that, I would not worry too much about Iran having a nuke. Pakistan, India & North Korea all seems to have come up with ones rather recently.  The challenge has now become proliferation & a nuke arms race in the Middle East that Saudi Arabia has already warned about.

Seth says
I don't know whether this story will grow legs, like the yellowcake one did, or not.  But it is about time to open up to speculation about the intentions not only to the media for  promoting this story, but also to speculation about the intentions of the participants.

When i first read the red headline at Drudge and then clicked through to ABC news story, i could not suppress a little twinge of fear.  At first there was the fear of the Iranian nukes themselves and the added power that might accrue to the Persian empire. This was a visceral reaction ... not tempored by intellect.  Then, as i delved deeper into the story, the object of my fear turned more to specualtion that the  US administration was again beating [title The drums of war in Iran]. Were my obvious reactions the intentions of Drudge and ABC news in projecting this story?

Then as i delved even deeper into story my speculations focused on the intentions of David Albright and his The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) for providing the backgroud material for the story.  There are no other quoted sources.  Might "sources familiar with the dramatic upgrade" actually be sombody at ISIS ?  And where did that source get their intel?  Lastly, was there a connection between the allegid source and why Bush happened to call on Martha and then emphacize that "we take seriously the attempts of the Iranians to gain a nuclear weapon" ?

My own intention for starting this item was to imporve my own awareness of events leading to a potential war against Iran.   Were that i had been as aware when yellowcake reared it's ugly head.

Seth says

Well i'm not an expert at interperting satellite photos, but it sure looks like there is some serious underground construction going on at this site.  Don't those look like mounds of earth dredged out from underground to you? To look closer do a Googel Earth search on "Natanz".

Seth says

Interesting, if you overlay this image at the coordinates stated above, you will see that: either they have covered the construction up, or Googele's images have not been updated recently.  Does anyone know how to find the date of the Google images?

Mark de LA says
Maybe all that is needed is to seal everyone inside inside - maybe something like a mixture of crazy glue & concrete.  Like sealing everybody in a mine.  I wonder how many entrances there are. Could make all the entrances so radioactive that nobody could get out alive. (Of course this is just a theoretical musing.)

Seth says
M 2007-04-04 15:22:04 6669
A good question might be does Israel have anything like a nuclear bunker buster which can penetrate the underground facility.
Targeting info: 33d 43' 32.94" N, 51d 43' 19.6" E.  But i wouldn't place too much faith in bunker busters which Israel gets from USA, check out what ISIS says ...
source: ISIS: The Iranian Gas Centrifuge Uranium Enrichment Plant at Natanz, March 14, 2003
Because of the nature of this site, a large military strike would be necessary to destroy these undergound buildings. Other information about Iran's centrifuge program suggests that even if the Natanz site was destroyed militarily, Iran's decentralized gas centrifuge program could not be bombed out of existence, meaning that Iran could relative rapidly build a small gas centrifuge facility that would be extremely difficult to detect.

Seth says
Here is another photo of the Natnz facility thanks to Russia's Daily Online ...

Below is a blowup of the lower right of the location from current google maps here.

I still can't figure out definitively which is the most recent.  But i rather suspect that Google Maps is more recent becaus there are too many sturctures that look finished which don't even exist in the Russian map. 

Of course it is well known that a lot of this facility is underground.  But that Iran Bars IAEA Inspectors out of Natanz Underground Facilities does not helping us believe that Iran's program is for peaceful purposes only.

We are persuing facts in this regard ... not subjective reactions.

Seth says
Nihilist 2007-04-06 13:05:10 6669
See 6717 for attitude adjustments.
Me thinks the Nihlist from eat shit and die is mongering fear.  The intention of this item, however, is not to monger fear, but rather to become aware of the rhetoric and actions of nations that are moving us ever so slowly in the direction of confligration.   What we are after here is actual knowledge relating to the build up in the centrifuges at Natanz.  Any further actual fear mongering on this node will be deleted.

Mark de LA says
The Washington Post article seems to express an even keel announcement of what Natanz has today - Iran Celebrating! What is amusing is toward the end of the article the charade of sanctions seems to be unmasked. What a toothless joke UN sanctions are!  The sad part is that sanctions would work if unanimously applied with complete isolation; not likely in my lifetime!

Seth says
Then too, it is not clear to me just how much Iran is (or is not) cooperating with the IAEA ...
source: Islamic Republic News Agency
"I do not see it necessary now to announce the number of centrifuges to which gas has been injected; to know of number of the centrifuges one should wait for the next 20 days when IAEA inspectors present their reports," said deputy head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization Mohammad Saiedi to reporters on the sidelines of celebrations at Natanz nuclear site marking the National Day of Nuclear Technology.
... so we will need to whatch that in deapth. 

Seth says
M 2007-04-09 08:20:58 6669
The Washington Post article seems to express an even keel announcement of what Natanz has today - Iran Celebrating! What is amusing is toward the end of the article the charade of sanctions seems to be unmasked. What a toothless joke UN sanctions are!  The sad part is that sanctions would work if unanimously applied with complete isolation; not likely in my lifetime!

The problem, as i see it, is not that Iran is enriching Uranium to 3% for power usage, but that it will not fully cooperate with the IAEA to validate that it is not enriching to 90% weapons grade. I would like a straight answer from  Larijani why they won't fully cooperate.  Sans that cooperation it is reasonable for the powers that be to become very suspicious.  Iran's insistance that they have the right to enrich Uranium for power usage, which is also reasonable, gets lost in that suspicion.  It would have been better if the UN resolution insisted not on stopping enrichment, but rather insisted on full cooperation on inspections.   

Mark de LA says
Meanwhile the beat goes on with this NY Times article headlined: Eye on Iran, Rivals Pursuing Nuclear Power

Mark de LA says
More Iran nuke hype in this Reuters article.
source: ...

That could be enough to refine uranium for one bomb within a year, if Iran wanted to and if the machines ran for long periods without breakdown -- a proficiency Iran has yet to demonstrate.

... It doesn't seem as if they are cooperating much either!

Seth says
M 2007-04-19 06:32:02 6669
More Iran nuke hype in this Reuters article.

That could be enough to refine uranium for one bomb within a year, if Iran wanted to and if the machines ran for long periods without breakdown -- a proficiency Iran has yet to demonstrate.

... It doesn't seem as if they are cooperating much either!
Apparently what is news on April 18 is a confidental letter from the IAEA to Iranian officials.  I wish these news agencies would publish exactly what they have of this letter rather than chopping it up and spinning it.  What you reported above was part of the spin, not part of the news.  But also in the letter is this ...
source: Reuters article
The three-paragraph note by IAEA deputy director Olli Heinonen also said Iran had stopped letting inspectors verify design work at the Arak heavy water reactor, under construction and scheduled for launching in 2009.
... which is bad news because it is the lack of cooperation with IAEA and the continued deception and delay which leads people to conclude that Iran's motives are in fact to build nuclear weapons. 

Seth says
Here is a report of the April 18th IAEA letter from Iran's media.

Mark de LA says
Here is an article on the current standoff with the IEAE. It's not clear exactly what is going on, but it is clear that Iran is not up front with what they are doing; otherwise the inspections would be open & the IEAE would declare Iran is in compliance & the sanctions would go away & everybody would be happy!

Seth says
M 2007-07-09 07:14:08 6669
M 2007-07-09 07:11:19 6669
I am implying pretty much nothing at all. What I said is just simple.  If the US were to use a nuclear device at Natanz which is large enough or a MIRV then 100 square miles of the facility could be made extremely radioactive, thus solving the problem you posed.  I am not worried at all about how deep they dig their own graves. OTOH, I hope that what is imaginable does not turn into reality.
This is pretty much a WW-4 type scenario.  Iran is much more vulnerable to sanctions & economic disruptions.
Me thinks that senario is not even on the minds of the most hakish factions in the pentagon ... or at least i hope it is not.  My comment above was actually written before i read the atricle in detail ... and now after reading i can see that the tunnels are almost certainly being dug in the Mahmud Sareban mountains.  But that they know where the dig site is, does not imply that they know where the entrances are going to be.   This report comes at a time in which there is a great deal of mistrust of Iran's immediate intentions.  Let us hope that it is not going to be used as an excuse to bom bom Iran, even with conventional ordanances.  On the issue of sanctions, me thinks that sometimes we forget that Iran is a resourseful country ... it is not a stationary target.

Seth says
M 2007-07-09 06:28:47 6669
I can't see what good tunneling would do. If they bury their whole nuclear operations underground all the entrances & exits still have to lead to surface.  At the surface a 100 square miles can be made so radioactive (Chernobyl or worse) that nobody can enter or exit for thousands of years.  It is questionable whether even somebody who is suicidal could survive enough to facilitate something harmful to the outside.

You seem to be assuming that we would make a preemtive stirke with a nuke. I rather doubt that, instead we would use bunker busters.   But the problem there is that you need to know where the tunnels come out.  Just a couple miles of tunneling will get them lost somewhere in the Mahmud Sareban mountains.

Mark de LA says
seth 2007-07-09 07:53:51 6669
Rhetoric like this ...
source: washingtion post
A tunnel complex would reduce options for a preemptive military strike to knock out Iran's nuclear program, according to U.S. officials who closely follow Iran's nuclear activities.
... sounds like it is establishing the rational for a stike now before the tunnels can be completed.
I hope someone in the government & military is planning ahead for all possibilities & contingencies - that's their job!

Seth says
M 2007-07-09 09:12:55 6669
Rhetoric alone will not start a war otherwise Ahmadinejad & the mullahs would already have one. They declare such rather frequently.  Even Al Qaeda threatens war with Iran;  which possibility is an interesting dynamic.
Well yeah Al Qaeda fighting our enemy would be a interesting dynamic indeed. 

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