Hooman Majd Answers The Nuclear Question

Question: How do you respond to concerns over Iran’s nuclear ambitions?Majd:    Stop worrying and don’t learn to live… love the bomb but stop worrying.  First of all, Iran is so far away from having a nuclear weapon.  I know there are all these reports, these alarming reports, Iran has enough rich uranium to build a bomb tomorrow.  Well, building a bomb is not as easy as it sounds.  Yes, the designs are on the internet but to actually create a nuclear weapon is going to be so difficult for Iran to do quietly, secretly.  Yes, they have enriched uranium to 3% or 4% whatever the number is that is useful for… as fuel, to then enriched to 90 or whatever percent they would have to… it would have to be done under the watchful eyes of the IAEA so we would know about it the minute they do it, it’s not like they have this other secret facility or at least, even the IAEA doesn’t think they have a secret facility where they’re doing exactly what they’re doing in front of the IAEA and they could then secretly go out and reach to a higher level.  So we even want them to reach a higher level, surely you’d want to test a nuclear weapon before you just fired it off, I mean, Iran is so far off with testing a nuclear weapon so we would even know… the North Koreans tested weapons and we’re not even sure that they worked.  We do know that Israel has nuclear weapons, we do know that they have a delivery system for those nuclear weapons, they have those kinds of missiles that they could deliver, accurate missiles that could deliver a nuclear weapon to Iran.  Iran is so far away from having that ability and some would say, “You’re being, you know, naïve.  They could do it in a year, they could do it in 2 years,” but there’ll be so many signals before that happened, that we could get… we could become really alarmed.  If Iran suddenly shuts down the IAEA cameras, 24 hours a day on their facility where they’re using the enriched uranium, they’d shut down those cameras.  You could say, “Okay, that’s the beginning of a cause of alarm.  What are they doing that they want to get rid of the IAEA inspectors?”  So, I mean, we’re so far away from that, I think that we should let the IAEA do their job, we should, at least talk to the Iranians, I mean, the thing is that do they have the technology to enriched uranium, you’re not going to bomb that technology out of it.  There’s plenty of people in Iran that could start up a centrifuge program even if this program is eliminated.  So the question now becomes how do we give incentives to the Iranians to never take that step.  We know that they have the knowledge to build centrifuges to enrich uranium and a lot of people analyst will tell you, nuclear science will say, “It’s not a big step to then go to a bomb.”  It is actually a bigger step than we think because you have to test it, you have to create that perfect sphere, you have to have mechanism, you have to have the delivery systems to deliver it, presumably you want a second strike capability, not just a first strike capability because the first strike capability and if somebody has a second strike on you, you’re done.  So you want to have this… that to be unequal in terms of nuclear power with Israel, for example. So how do we give them incentives to not take that step and that’s where negotiations come in because there are plenty of countries that do have that ability, Japan is one, they’re never given incentives to go and build a bomb, Brazil, South Africa, these are countries that have the ability to enrich uranium, have the ability to probably even build a bomb if they wanted to but what stops them from doing it?  Well, there is no… they have no incentive, none so whatsoever, they have all the disincentives to build a bomb so what we have to do is figure out, how to disincentive Iran from ever taking that step.

Hooman Majd on Iran's potential to go nuclear.

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