The Iran nuclear dance

Famous American Author Mark Twain was asked one time if he thought if history repeated itself he replied, ” “History doesn't repeat itself but it often rhymes,”.  Buried beneath the obscured pages of Presidential Nuclear détente is how North Korea became a nuclear armed state. In what appears to be a recurring nightmare, Iran’s slow march to become a nuclear weapons state is following the same path.

During the Cold War era, in the early 1950s North Korea launched developing the institutional capacity to prepare personnel for its nuclear program. In December 1952, its government instituted the Atomic Energy Research Institute and the Academy of Sciences, but nuclear work only began to progress when North Korea established collaborative agreements with the former Soviet Union (Russia). Mohamed Reza Shah initiated Iran's nuclear program during the 1950s with assistance from the US Atoms for Peace Program. By the 1960’s, the Soviet Union contributed technical assistance to North Korea and constructed the Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center, which included the installation of the Soviet IRT-2000 nuclear research reactor and associated facilities. North Korea used this small research reactor to produce radioisotopes and to train personnel. Sound familiar?

After China’s first nuclear test in 1964 North Kora’s leader, Kim Il Sung asked Beijing to share its nuclear weapons technology and research. Iranian nuclear physicists have traveled to North Korea, observed and studied atomic bomb tests there. (Underground nuclear tests were conducted on 9 October 2006 and 25 May 2009)

The 1980s was a period of the significant indigenous expansion, when North Korea constructed uranium milling facilities, fuel rod fabrication complex, and a 5MW(e) nuclear reactor, as well as research and development institutions. Simultaneously, North Korea began experimenting with the high explosives tests required for building the triggering mechanism of a nuclear bomb. Professor Danilenko Vyacheslav IAEA 2011 Iran Safeguards Report: “Iran’s Work and Foreign Assistance on a Multipoint Initiation System for a Nuclear Weapon”. Most of that evidence surrounds one Professor Vyacheslav Danilenko, a high explosives expert from the Cold War era. The IAEA solidly confirmed that he was in Iran from 1996-2002 and returned to Russia. The IAEA verified through three separate sources, including the expert himself that he was in Islamic Republic during that time. Danilenko worked at the All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Technical Physics (VNIITF), which is a top secret Soviet nuclear weapons complex research center. It is strange he persists in claiming “I am not a nuclear physicist."

It is interesting to note Pyongyang even signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) as a non-nuclear weapon state in December 1985 in exchange for Soviet assistance constructing four nuclear light water reactors. North Korea also signed an IAEA safeguards agreement on 30 January 1992, and the Supreme People's Assembly ratified the agreement on 9 April 1992. Under the terms of the accord, North Korea provided an "initial declaration" of its nuclear facilities and materials, and provided access for IAEA inspectors to verify the completeness and correctness of its initial declaration

Ever hear of the Mid-East Nuclear Free Zone? Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. They gave one to North Korea as a grand bargain for nuclear talks and nuclear concessions.  In September 1991, US President Bush announced the withdraw of US nuclear weapons from South Korea, and on 18 December 1991, President Roh Tae Woo declared that South Korea was free of nuclear weapons. North and South Korea signed the 1992 Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Both states agreed not to "test, manufacture, produce, receive, possess, store, deploy or use nuclear weapons. The agreement additionally bound the two sides to forgo the possession of "nuclear reprocessing and uranium enrichment facilities." The agreement also provided for a bilateral inspections regime," but never agreed on a verification method. (On 23 January 2013, North Korea formally voided the 1992 Joint Declaration with South Korea).

The nuclear dance went on with North Korea, sanctions, talks etc. In Late 1993: The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Defense Intelligence Agency estimate that North Korea had separated about 12 kilograms of plutonium. This amount is enough for at least one or two nuclear weapons. Then in January 1994 the director of the CIA estimated that North Korea may have produced one or two nuclear weapons. North Korea had been suspected of maintaining a clandestine nuclear weapons development program since the early 1980s when it constructed a plutonium-producing Magnox nuclear reactor at Yongbyon,

By 2003, negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs evolved to six governments: the United States, North Korea, China, South Korea, Japan, and Russia. The talks dragged on, then seemly a breakthrough in 2005 when there was the Joint Agreement. North Korea agreed to abandon its nuclear program, return to the NPT, and restore IAEA safeguards. However on October 3, 2006 North Korea boldly announced it would be conducting a nuclear test in six days, on October 9 it detonated an underground nuclear device test.

Since about 2007, we have continuously heard how the Islamic Republic of Iran is only 1-3 years from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Experts from Washington to EU proclaim Tehran could not build a nuclear weapon without them knowing about it. These same experts claim much of North Korea’s nuclear weapons capabilities and production is unknown. These same experts were totally in the dark about Iran’s nuclear program until 2002.

North Korea’s Indigenous Development under the Radar of the International Community, much like Tehran’s hidden nuclear program which was revealed by Iranian opposition group in 2002”

In 2002 and 2003, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, an opposition group based in Paris, reported the existence of undeclared nuclear facilities at Arak, heavy water nuclear plant, and Natanz fuel enrichment. Iran was created a plant in Arak in an effort to develop "the capability to make separated plutonium and highly enriched uranium, the two principal nuclear explosive materials." In August 2006, Iran officially announced the inauguration of the Arak plant for the production of heavy water. Heavy water is used to moderate the nuclear fission chain reaction either in a particular type of reactor or produce plutonium for use in a nuclear bomb.

The Natanz Fuel Enrichment complex is the primary site of Iran’s gas centrifuge program. It contains two major facilities:  the Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant (PFEP) and the Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP).  It also houses a centrifuge assembly area. Tehran in 2002 confessed to small-scale enrichment experiments and plans to construct an enrichment facility, a heavy water production plant, heavy water moderated research reactor, and a fuel fabrication plant. How about Iran’s parallel nuclear weapons facilities in Syria bombed in 2007?

It would surprise most Americans to learn that the United States provided North Korea with over $1.3 billion in assistance from 1995 to 2008. This aid, along with other benefits, such as North Korea's removal from the list of state sponsors of terrorism and the unfreezing of key assets, was provided even as the US and its allies spent countless dollars more defending themselves from the dangers emanating from Pyongyang, and as North Korea made steady progress toward a nuclear weapons.

For years, the UN, Washington and the international community have tried to negotiate an end to the Islamic Republic and North Korea’s nuclear and missile developments and their exports of ballistic missile technology. Those efforts have been replete with periods of crisis, stalemate, and tentative progress towards denuclearization. Washington and the UN  has pursued a variety of policy responses to the proliferation challenges posed by North Korea and Iran including military cooperation with U.S. allies in their respective regions, wide-ranging sanctions, and non-proliferation mechanisms such as export controls.

President Obama Paradox; In order to jump-start Iranian diplomacy upon taking office, Obama recognized Tehran’s right to enrich uranium. With a single statement, Obama unilaterally laid waste the authority of three hard-fought Security Council Resolutions forbidding enrichment. Iranian authorities responded by ramping up enrichment and flatly rejecting to negotiate suspension. When a country wants to get around oil & gas sanctions, President Obama just hands them a waiver. Washington Congress believes they can reinstate sanctions on Tehran, really after countries have opened multi-billion contracts and investments? Not likely

President Barack Obama lifted export control from more than 30,000 military components, the components included those long sought by adversaries of the America, particularly Iran.

What of IAEA’s unanswered questions of the nuclear dimensions to Iran’s Nuclear Program? Or the forbidden ground of Parchin military complex? In the November 2011 IAEA Safeguards report on Iran, the IAEA disclosed that information from member states indicated that Iran constructed a large explosives containment vessel or chamber at the Parchin military complex in 2000 to conduct high explosive and hydrodynamic experiments related to the development of nuclear weapons.  These issues and more are lost into the black hole of irrelevance.  

Pakistan is not an oil rich nation like Iran and suffers server economic hardships, yet it has built the 5th largest (and growing) nuclear arsenal in the world. It has also designed & built ultra-modern nuclear ballistic and cruise missiles. UNSCR 1929 (2010):Expanded the ban on sale of heavy weapons and missile technology to Iran; prohibits Iran from investing in nuclear and ballistic missile technology; Tehran defense minister  recently boasted Iran is fourth in missile power.

 This nuclear dance with the Islamic Republic of Iran is only going in circles, and once the music stops the Islamic Republic will be a deadly armed nuclear State.

There Is No Evidence in the Past 100Years of Sanctions History to Support Its Premise as a Viable Tool “ Unsanctioned Sanctions The United States' Real Leverage on Iran By Kimberly Ann Elliott December 10, 2013