Ritter on Iran
Path to Peace with Iran
By Scott Ritter
04/20/06 "Alternet" -- -- It has been more than a week now since the Iranian government announced that it had "joined the nuclear club" by successfully enriching uranium, albeit for nuclear fuel, not a weapon. Once a nation has the capacity to enrich to the former, enrichment to the latter is simply a matter of time; the technology is the same. Iran's declaration immediately made headlines around the world, with stunned punditry engaging in wild speculation about the potential ramifications of this turn of events. From a simple laboratory-scale enrichment experiment, a massive nuclear weapons program grew Pheonix-like from the ashes, prompting dire warnings from US Government officials such as Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation Stephen Rademaker, who told a press conference in Moscow, where he was visiting to discuss the Iranian nuclear issue with Russian officials, that Iran "...may be capable of making a nuclear bomb within 16 days."
Rademaker was referring to the mathematical possibilities arising from Iran enriching uranium to weapons grade-levels at its centrifuge enrichment plant at Natanz, using a 50,000-centrifuge cascade system the United States and others say is capable of being installed at the facility. In a nod to the hypothetical nature of his outlandish remark, Rademaker did note that the Iranians have gone on record as only wanting to install a 3,000-centrifuge cascade at Natanz. In that case, Rademaker said, "We calculate that a 3,000-machine cascade could produce enough uranium to build a nuclear weapon within 271 days." Apparently 271 days isn't as terrifyingly sexy as 16 days, given that the majority of the media reported Rademakers initial statement.