It appears that near-panic has broken out over the state of Iran’s nuclear program. Teheran’s supply of raw uranium is falling due to enrichment, and any additional stockpile could be used for the finishing touches on an atomic bomb. In response, the West is scrambling to attempt to stop the import of any more of the substance.
Before Christmas, Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office sent out a confidential request for its diplomats in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Brazil, all major uranium producers, to lobby governments not to sell uranium products, specifically yellow cake, to Iran.
Iran’s stock of yellow cake, acquired from South Africa in the 1970s under the Shah’s original civil nuclear power program, has almost run out. Iran is developing its own uranium mines, but does not have enough ore to support a sustained nuclear program.
The request, news of which emerged after an international investigation by The Times, was part of a drive by six countries — the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Australia and Canada — to choke off supplies of uranium to Iran. It is a move that, while unlikely to cripple any effort to develop a bomb, would blunt its ambitions and help to contain the threat, sources told the Times.
This could be a sign that the Western powers realize that Iran is close to a bomb or they have proof that their enrichment program will lead to one. Within six months or a year may be the point of no return.