Iran, All Bark, No Bite…Right

Let’s place this article in the “We’ll react with surprise after Israel is vaporized” file., or Move Along, Nothing to see here!
 

US downplays Iranian nuclear advancements as ‘hype’

By REUTERS, via The Jerusalem Post
 
Ahmadinejad unveils new centrifuges able to enrich uranium much faster; “We frankly don’t see a lot new here. This is not big news,” US responds.

The United States on Wednesday played down Iran’s latest announcements on advancements in its nuclear program, saying its reported breakthroughs were “not terribly new and not terribly impressive.”

Iran proclaimed advances in nuclear know-how, including new centrifuges able to enrich uranium much faster.

“We frankly don’t see a lot new here. This is not big news. In fact it seems to have been hyped,” a State Department spokeswoman said.

Despite Washington’s dismissal of the nuclear advancements as unimportant, the moves appeared designed to show that increased sanctions are failing to halt Iran’s technical progress and to strengthen its hand in any renewed negotiations with the major powers.

“The era of bullying nations has past. The arrogant powers cannot monopolize nuclear technology. They tried to prevent us by issuing sanctions and resolutions but failed,” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a live television broadcast.

“Our nuclear path will continue.”

However, Iran’s Arabic-language Al Alam television said the government had handed a letter to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton expressing readiness to “hold new talks over its nuclear program in a constructive way”.

An Ashton spokeswoman confirmed receipt of the letter, saying she was evaluating it and would consult with the United States, Russia, China and other partners among the big powers.

Iran has long refused to negotiate curbs on its nuclear program, saying it is intended to produce electricity for booming domestic demand and for other civilian uses.

The nuclear achievements proclaimed by Tehran involved a new line of uranium enrichment centrifuge and the loading of its first domestically produced batch of fuel into a research reactor that is expected to soon run out of imported stocks.

Tehran has for some years been developing and testing new generations of centrifuges to replace its outdated, erratic “P-1” model. In January it said it had successfully manufactured and tested its own fuel rods for use in nuclear power plants.

Ahmadinejad said the “fourth generation” of centrifuge would be able to refine uranium three times as fast as previously.

If Iran eventually succeeded in introducing modern centrifuges for production, it could significantly shorten the time needed to stockpile enriched uranium, which can generate electricity or, if refined much more, nuclear explosions.

Last year, Iran installed two newer models for large scale testing at a research site near the central town of Natanz.

But it remains unclear whether Tehran, under increasingly strict trade sanctions, has the means and components to make the more sophisticated machines in industrial quantity.

“We have seen this before. We have seen these announcements and these grand unveilings and it turns out that there was less there than meets the eye. I suspect this is the same case,” said Shannon Kile at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

However, Ahmadinejad said Iran had significantly increased the number of centrifuges at its main enrichment site at Natanz, saying there were now 9,000 such machines installed there.

In its last report on Iran, in November, the UN nuclear watchdog said there were 8,000 installed centrifuges at Natanz, of which up to 6,200 were operating.

State television aired live footage of Ahmadinejad loading Iranian-made fuel rods into the Tehran Research Reactor and called this “a sign of Iranian scientists’ achievements”.

The Tehran reactor produces radio isotopes for medical use and agriculture. Iran says it was forced to manufacture its own fuel for the Tehran reactor after failing to agree terms for a deal to obtain it from the West.

In 2010, Iran alarmed the West by starting to enrich uranium to a fissile purity of 20 percent for the stated purpose of reprocessing into special fuel for the Tehran reactor.

In boosting enrichment up from the 3.5 percent level suitable for powering civilian nuclear plants, Iran moved significantly closer to the 90 percent threshold suitable for the fissile core of a nuclear warhead.

Analysts remained doubtful that Iran would be able to operate the research reactor with its own special fuel.

“As usual, the announcement surely is exaggerated. Producing the fuel plates … is not so hard. But the plates have to be tested for a considerable period before they can be used safely in the reactor,” said Mark Fitzpatrick of London’s International Institute for Strategic Studies.

“If Iran is really running the reactor with untested fuel plates, then my advice to the residents surrounding the building would be to move somewhere else. It will be unsafe.”

The People Fear Obama

From: USNews.com:

Source: The Synovate eNation Internet poll was conducted December 29-January 2 among a national sample of 1,000 households by global market research firm Synovate.

[Editorial Comment: As you read the poll results, keep this in mind. Anyone who knows polling, understands that results of “Households” or “Americans” or “Adults”, are always drastically skewed to the left. It is not until you get results from equal numbers of “Very Likely Voters” that things are portrayed more equitably. If the results of a general poll are this bad, you can bet the house, they are really a lot worse.]

When it comes to how Americans view President Obama going into the new year, there appears to be very little spirit of Auld Lang Syne. Instead, according to the new Washington Whispers poll, many voters aren’t forgetting what they dislike about Obama and want him out of office.

In our New Year’s poll, when asked what news event they fear most about 2012, Americans by a margin of two-to-one said Obama’s reelection. Only 16 percent said they fear the Democrat won’t win a second term, while 33 percent said they fear four more years.

Next to Obama’s reelection, 31 percent of Americans said they feared higher taxes, which may be proof that the president’s focus on the payroll tax cut has hit pay dirt.

The poll, however, held out some hope for Obama. Some 38 percent of younger Americans, 18-24, said their biggest fear was higher taxes. Just 28 percent of those same voters said they feared Obama winning in November.

But in results backed up by other polls, older Americans and those earning $75,000 or more are especially worried about the president getting a second term, according to the poll done by Synovate eNation.

Nearly half of Americans 65 and older said Obama’s reelection was their top fear, 39 percent of those making $75,000 or more agreed.

As we enter the presidential election year of 2012, what potential news event do you fear the most?

President Obama wins reelection 33%

Taxes will increase 31%

Iran will get a nuclear weapon 16%

Obama will lose reelection 16%

North Korea will attack South Korea 4%