Thursday, April 14, 2011

Iran nuclear program moving forward 'without challenges'

National security expert tells 'Post' that Iranian scientists have moved to "more advanced" uranium enrichment centrifuge designs.

Iran's nuclear program is moving ahead without any significant challenges from Western powers, a defense analyst warned on Thursday.

Ephraim Kam, Deputy Head of Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), and a former colonel in the Research Division of IDF Military Intelligence, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that Iranian scientists have moved from primitive first generation uranium enrichment centrifuges to "more advanced second and third generation" designs.

This week, the head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, Fereydoun Abbasi, announced that the Bushehr nuclear reactor, said by the Islamic Regime to be a commercial electricity provider, would go online in May.

Abbasi also claimed that Iran would construct four to five nuclear research reactors in the coming years.

"It's difficult to know what is propaganda and what is real, but what is clear is that they are making progress," Kam said.

"They've been experimenting with more advanced centrifuges for over a year." Kam said a recently published American study concluded that Tehran had overcome the Stuxnet computer virus which reportedly hindered the nuclear program significantly.

"There's no question that progress is being made. The nuclear agenda of Iran is not on the world's agenda at all. For months, there have been no challenges from Europe or the US, and negotiations are stalled. There is no pressure on Iran," Kam noted.

The current situation is comfortable for the Iranian regime, the expert added.

Additionally, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei are concerned that the upheaval rocking the Arab world could spark more riots within Iran, and hope that announcements on nuclear program could ease internal pressure, Kam said.

"Pointing to successes like these can give them more prestige," he added.