During the Vice Presidential debate moderator Martha Raddatz asked Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan about Iran’s nuclear program. Vice President Biden replied, “We will not allow the Iranians to get a nuclear weapon. What Bibi held up there was when they get to the point where they can enrich uranium enough to put into a weapon. They don’t have a weapon to put it into.” [My Emphasis]
Vice President then stated, “When my friend talks about fissile material, they have to take this highly enriched uranium, get it from 20 percent up, then they have to be able to have something to put it in. There is no weapon that the Iranians have at this point. Both the Israelis and we know – we’ll know if they start the process of building a weapon.” [My Emphasis]
Is Vice President Biden saying that the administration’s red line is when Iran has a weapon to put their enriched uranium into it? That is different than achieving 90% enrichment, which is Prime Minister Netanyahu’s red line.
According to Clare Lopez, former CIA Operations Officer and Senior Fellow at the Center for Security Policy, in an email states, “The IAEA reports of the last 12 months consistently have listed warhead R&D among the issues for concern with Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The IAEA reports also list the testing of neutron triggers, or the explosive charges that set off the implosion sequence for a nuclear warhead, are a problem area – especially the explosives testing the IAEA believes was done at the Parchin site, which this past year has been visible in satellite images being destroyed to cover up evidence, while the IAEA repeatedly has been denied permission to visit and inspect the site.”
Yaakov Lappin and Benjamin Weinthal in a March 5, 2012 Jerusalem Post column report, “A senior German defense figure said in a report this week that Iran may be significantly further ahead in its nuclear weapons program than public intelligence assessments have so far suggested. Hans Ruhle, who directed the planning department of the German Defense Ministry from 1982 to 1988, argued that Iran may have been involved in the detonation of an experimental uranium nuclear bomb in North Korea in 2010.”
The Huffington Post reported in March 2012, “The [IAEA] report asserted that Iran constructed ‘a large explosives containment vessel’ in which to conduct experiments on triggering a nuclear explosion, apparently 11 years ago, adding that it had satellite images “consistent with this information … The IAEA summarized its information last November in a 13-page document drawing on 1,000 pages of intelligence. It stated then for the first time that some of the alleged experiments can have no other purpose than developing nuclear weapons.” Other open source reports, like YNet News and The Diplomat, reported on Iran testing a nuclear “weapon” in North Korea.
This begs the question – Do they already have “a weapon”?
Iran’s leaders were surely listening to the Vice Presidential debate and looking for any daylight in the Obama administrations position on their nuclear weapons program. They may have found hope in the Vice President’s comments and are smiling.