Saber Rattling & Iran’s Nuclear Program (TWiN Podcast 75)

Get the MP3 File Here News outlets around the world were buzzing last week when Iran announced in a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it has built a second nuclear fuel enrichment facility deep under a mountain near the city of Qom.  The UN security council appeared outraged and the US government claimed it has known of the facility for “some time.” There continues to be deep disagreement between Iran and the UN Security Council about the Islamic Republic’s intentions and their responsibilities under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.  Iran claims they are following the rules to the letter: they notified the IAEA about the facility 180 days before it is scheduled to go into operation, precisely as required by their agreement with the IAEA.  President Obama on the other hand, stated Iran is “breaking the rules all nations must follow.,” and other members of the Security Council seem to agree.  They cite a later UN provision that requires Iran to notify them before building any such facility. Herein lies the problem: there are TWO SETS OF RULES!  The earlier version required Iran to notify the IAEA before loading special nuclear material into a new facility – essentially they had to tell the IAEA (a branch of the UN) 180 days before beginning operation.  A later version of the rule requires notification before beginning beginning construction of an enrichment facility.  Iran claims they are not required to comply with the later version because other parties to the agreement (the USA and Europe) failed to meet their end of the deal.  Specifically, under what are called the “additional protocols” and the “Subsidiary Agreement” the USA and Western European nations were to recognize Iran’s legitimate right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes, and in exchange Iran would agree to notify the IAEA before BUILDING more enrichment capacity.  The earlier version of the agreements required notification later in the process – before OPERATING a new enrichment facility. At least one nuclear weapons expert says Iran is right.  Scott Ritter, a former UN weapons inspector, says Iran is both legally and technically correct.  According to Mr. Ritter, Iran agreed to voluntarily follow the later agreement pending ratification by their Parliament.  Since their Parliament has never ratified the agreement, Iran is not legally bound to it.  Instead, Iran is bound by the earlier agreement requiring Iran to inform the IAEA about the facility before beginning operation. Mr. Ritter also says the IAEA currently has a 100% accounting for all of Iran’s nuclear material and none has been diverted to weapons production or enriched to weapons grade.  If Scott Ritter is correct,...

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Could small modular nuclear reactors be the “Game Changing Technology” in the fight to reduce carbon emissions? (Podcast Episode #70)

In this video podcast I discuss the role of the social media in the unrest in Iran.  I also speculate about how the B&W mPower reactor and other small modular reactors might be a key to reducing CO2 emissions. Watch the video below. Download the video clip here. MIT Energy Initiative Twitter B&W’s mPower Reactor...

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