U.S. amps up surveillance before Iran nuclear talks

Keyla Beebe

CIA surveillance of Iran evaded public knowledge until a bat-winged stealth surveillance drone crashed in Iran last December. Now, the Washington Post reports that this drone was one of many sent over the past three years to gather intel on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Though Iran has publicly denied using uranium enrichment facilities to advance nuclear weapons production, many still fear that Iran’s resources are intended for more than just nuclear power.

To generate nuclear power, these facilities would only require uranium enriched to 3–5 percent. However, Iran has stated that it has uranium enriched to over 20 percent, which makes it eligible for nuclear weapons material.

“The only reason you would want to enrich it over (20 percent) is that you’re going to make a nuclear weapon,” said Robert Duncan, visiting assistant professor of political science. “So, this whole thing about, ‘it’s for peaceful usage (in a) nuclear power plant,’ that’s hogwash.”

According to the Washington Post, the U.S. government had increased its intelligence efforts in order to strengthen their bargaining stance for nuclear talks with Iran.

Iran, Germany and the five members of the U.N. Security Council met for 10 hours on April 14 to talk about the future of Iran’s nuclear program, reported the Washington Post. Iran seemed open to negotiations, but officials and analysts remain skeptical.

“Iran and North Korea are two peas in the same pod,” said Duncan. “They’ll agree to talk, they’ll get concessions and then they’ll break their promises and go back to being belligerent. It’s just a shell game to stall for time. I don’t think the Iranians have any intention at all of abandoning their nuclear program.”

As Danish Foreign Minister Villy Sovndal told reporters, Iranian officials “are world champions in making very long negotiations lead nowhere.”

At this point, analysts believe that a compromise is the only solution. One popular suggestion is allowing Iran to “continue limited low-level enrichment if it in return accepts much more intrusive U.N. nuclear inspections,” reported Reuters.

However, Iran may want economic sanctions lifted sooner rather than later, specifically the trade embargos imposed by Western countries on Iran’s oil. A senior Obama administration official stated that sanctions will not be lifted until Iran begins acting on its word, according to Reuters.

In any case, there are serious dangers with allowing the Iranian nuclear programs to continue in any form.

“(There is) the potential for a rogue leader to do something crazy, to launch WWIII,” said Duncan. “A fanatic, someone who doesn’t give a poop about the people or themselves, could do something disastrous and start the nuclear ball rolling, and that’s scary.”

A second round of nuclear talks is scheduled for May 23 in the Iraqi capital. But until then, Duncan is not taking any chances.

“I think I’m going to build a bomb shelter in my backyard,” said Duncan. “Just in case.”

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