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Is Iran Preparing Nuclear Test? – OpEd

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By Boris Pavlishchev

Iran is ready for serious talks with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany, on its controversial nuclear program, speaker of Iran’s parliament Ali Larijani said Thursday during his visit to Turkey. Mr. Larijani stressed that Iran’s nuclear program is ‘for purely peaceful purposes.’

In the meantime, Israeli open source military intelligence website, Debka.com, has claimed that Iran is getting ready to carry out an underground test of a one-kiloton nuclear device during 2012 or in early 2013, much like the test carried out by North Korea in 2006.

Assessing the likelihood of such a nuclear test is quite a challenging task. To develop a nuclear warhead, Iran needs to have uranium enriched to 90% purity. Meanwhile, Iran`s technology is not that advanced to ensure the implementation of this test. Although chances are still there for the country to receive enriched uranium from abroad, says Pyotr Topychkanov, a scientist at the Russian Academy of Sciences:

“In the 1990s or in the early 2000s Iran could have illegally received enough uranium from abroad. There are international networks smuggling nuclear technology and materials, like the one in Pakistan, named after prominent nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan.”

It is worth mentioning, however, that unlike Israel or Pakistan, Iran has signed the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, and insists on its adherence to the nuclear non-proliferation regime. So, if Tehran is really preparing an underground nuclear test, it should first quit the several international agreements it had previously signed. But Iran may choose an alternative way to go, believes Pyotr Topychkanov…

“It is possible that Iran decides not to quit these international agreements and carry out the test secretly, claiming that it being conducted for peaceful purposes, or stage it abroad, say, in Pakistan or North Korea.”

The expert admits, however, that Iran’s nuclear test would by all means result in the Arab states and Turkey also willing to seek nuclear technology and weapons. As far as Israel, the U.S. and Europe are concerned, their reaction to the test is going to be very tough, and a military attack on Iran cannot be ruled out.

Yevgeny Satanovsky, President of the Middle East Institute, has a different point of view…

“As soon as the test takes place, attacking Iran won`t make any sense. Remember North Korea: nobody is going to invade it now precisely because it possesses one or even two nuclear bombs. At the same time, Muammar Gaddafi, who had renounced a nuclear program, did not survive. Saddam, who had failed to implement his nuclear program, was executed. It is very simple: you will only survive if your have nukes.”

In view of this, the statement released by Israel on Debka.com could be interpreted as a provocation, Mr. Satanovsky believes.

“This kind of statements may be made on purpose, even by Iran itself, for example, as a threat to Israel and the West. By doing so, Tehran might want to warn everyone that it is about to become a nuclear state.”

Both experts interviewed by the VoR agree that although the information on the Israeli website is difficult to verify, it is unlikely to be a provocation since there are other media outlets where such statements can be made, using a different tone, too. This very report appears to be a deliberate leak amid the continuing aggression against Iran. The task of world powers now is to prevent this information from becoming a reality, and this is where Russia and China, who have always insisted on a peaceful solution to the Iranian nuclear issue, come in.

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VOR

VOR, or the Voice of Russia, was the Russian government's international radio broadcasting service from 1993 until 2014, when it was reorganised as Radio Sputnik.

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