Iran’s DIY centrifuge program
ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images “All parts of [our] centrifuges are built in Iran,” said an advisor to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday. If true, it’s depressing news. Some analysts argue that the Iranians are having trouble enriching uranium because they can’t import the right spare parts. On the other hand, Khamenei might just ...
ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images
“All parts of [our] centrifuges are built in Iran,” said an advisor to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday. If true, it’s depressing news. Some analysts argue that the Iranians are having trouble enriching uranium because they can’t import the right spare parts.
On the other hand, Khamenei might just be blowing smoke. The Iranians say they can make all the parts, but that doesn’t mean they can make all the parts well. They’re still feeding uranium into the assembled centrifuges slowly, which could indicate worries about operating them at high speeds. And the centrifuges are not being spun at full capacity, either.
Most likely, the Supreme Leader wants to instill doubt in the Security Council that new, targeted sanctions would be effective. Khamenei’s assertion—combined with a few other recent Iranian maneuvers—could delay Security Council action, at the least. At worst, it could splinter support among the permanent five and entirely derail the possibility of further action.
Few people have noted two other interesting tidbits in Iran’s announcement. First, it was an advisor to Supreme Leader Khamenei, not President Ahmadinejad, who made the statement. Rumor has it Khamenei thought Ahmadinejad was going too far in his rhetoric towards the West about Iran’s nuclear program. With Khamenei’s advisor now making aggressive statements in support of the nuclear program, perhaps the Supreme Leader has decided to adopt a confrontational approach more like that of Ahmadinejad.
Second, Khamenei’s news may have caused crude oil prices to rally earlier this week. Iranians are increasingly unhappy with their country’s deteriorating economy, and violent unrest followed the government’s recent decision to ration gasoline. Khamenei may be trying to manipulate the oil markets, hoping to alleviate domestic pressure. Given how fickle oil markets can be, this might be an encouraging sign of just how desperate the Iranian regime has become.
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