Tribute (Breakout) Blogging

Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’ve already seen “this assessment of Iran’s ability to bypass safeguards”: by Andreas Persbo of VERTIC:

At the present, I believe that the likelihood of an Iranian break-out is slim. The principal reason for this argument is that Iran’s installed capacity at the uranium enrichment plant in Natanz is still low, and that a break-out would entail significant political and security risks for the country. As long as Agency safeguards are in place at the Iranian sites, the international community is likely to get advance warning of any attempt to divert material or to use the existing facilities for nefarious purposes.

The problem is that not all of the nuclear fuel cycle is under safeguards. Processes downstream from the uranium conversion facility are generally covered. But uranium mining and milling as well as certain nuclear related activities (such as research centres or centrifuge assembly sites) are not monitored. Since this is the case, it is easy for a fairly technologically advanced state to construct a parallel nuclear fuel cycle, using indigenous uranium resources to fuel a clandestine weapons programme.

(Read “the whole thing”:

What you might not have seen, though, is the entire series of in-depth posts appearing lately at his home blog, “Verification, Implementation and Compliance”:

* “Progress at Natanz”:

* “The Iranian breakout scenario”:

* “Tracking UF6 cylinders”:

* And now, of course, “Bypassing safeguards”:

Now, some of this is not for the faint of heart. When I wrote about “safeguards at Natanz”: last summer at ACW, for example, I consciously avoided using certain words like “hexapartite.” It’s not that the ACW readership can’t figure that one out; it’s just distracting if you have to. But if you like your nuclear wonkery undiluted and in-depth, then you had better be following VIC.

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