I know nothing about the science, but this seems credible–certainly worth considering.
EXTRACT (Letter Only, Editorial Hyperbole Detracts)
Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu:
Iran may be in your red zone, but can not score.
Sure, Iran could divert a few tons of 3.5% or a ton of 20% enriched uranium hexaflouride gas for enrichment to 90+%. But what then?
No one has ever made a nuclear weapon from gas. It must be converted to metal and fabricated into components which are then assembled with high explosives.
Iran lacks experience with and facilities for these processes which are very dangerous because of potential for a criticality accident or nuclear explosion. Iran would not jeopardize its important, fully safeguarded nuclear programs by an attempt to have a deliverable, one kiloton yield nuclear weapon ten to fifteen years later.
IMPORTANT NOTE: North Korea was able to make and test a nuclear explosive soon after withdrawing from safeguards because plutonium for reactor recycle was in a form usable for a weapon.
Israeli Consul-General for the South East United States Reda Mansour and I discussed these and related issues about nuclear technology in a March 2009 meeting.
Earlier, I had provided information to him from experiences with nuclear weapons and knowledge of nuclear programs in other nations that there was no potential weapon threat from Iran’s nuclear programs
Soon after my meeting with Consul General Mansour, I sent information about lack of an Iranian nuclear weapon threat by e-mail to you and President Obama and discussed the issue with then IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei.
Dr. ElBaradei was aware that IAEA inspectors do not understand technology for designing and producing weapons but instead rely on long ‘trigger’ lists of items that could – but mostly do not – indicate work on weapons. He agreed with me that there was no weapon threat from Iran’s fully safeguarded nuclear programs.
President Obama asked U.S. FBI special agents to meet with me to verify my information. Responses from your office indicated awareness that my information was accurate. The New York Times published three of my letters explaining no Iranian nuclear weapon threat and including my experiences with weapons and weapon threat assessment.
A major problem is that very few understand the complex chemical engineering technology used to produce nuclear materials and components for weapons.
Israel’s weapons are plutonium-based, implosion-type. Israeli officials do not understand the technology for a uranium-based, gun-type nuclear weapon that Iran could hypothetically build.
During discussions with officials and staff of US national security agencies and others in Washington, DC, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Austria from 1972 to 1997, I never met anyone who understood the technology used for producing nuclear materials and nuclear components for weapons.
All chemical companies who managed and all government chemical engineers (such as myself) who directed programs for production of nuclear materials and components have left the US government, which has lost the ability to produce most nuclear materials and components for weapons and assess ability of other nations to do so.
Current IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano does not appreciate the limitations of inspectors and accepts their findings of suspicious activities that are not. For example, testing of high explosives at the Parchin military site could indicate testing for more sophisticated plutonium-based, implosion-type weapons, but not the simple hypothetical weapon of Iran Appropriate denial of access to inspectors leads to further criticism and false claims.
Please share this information with all Israelis and end threats of military actions against important, fully safeguarded nuclear facilities.
I would be pleased to provide clarification or additional information about these issues.
Best wishes for peace! Clinton Bastin
Copies to US President Barack Obama and IAEA Director General Yukiya Amato
Clinton Bastin directed US Atomic Energy Commission programs for production of nuclear materials and nuclear components for weapons from 1955 through 1971 and was a consultant to US national security agencies on nuclear weapon threats in other nations from 1972 through 1996.
At retirement in March 1997 he received the DOE’s Distinguished Career Service Award recognizing him as “the U.S. authority on reprocessing; an advocate and initiator of total quality management and partnering agreements; and, as President of the Employees’ Union, selflessly ensuring the recognition and rights of DOE’s greatest resources, its people.”
He also received a note from Energy Secretary Hazel O’Leary stating “Thanks for the wonderful and productive partnership,” and messages from leaders of the Russian Ministry for Atomic Energy and Russian Nuclear Workers Union informing him that they had adopted his ideas for their plan to improve safety for nuclear activities through partnerships. He was invited to address delegates to the first national convention of the 900,000-member Nuclear Workers Union, and delegates voted to adopt the plan.