The Iranian government protested. There aren't diplomatic ties between Iran and America, so the note was passed through the Swiss embassy in Tehran.
Here's a somewhat biased summary of that Iranian protest:
- Our nuclear program is very peaceful
- As is proved by American intelligence
- Which showed that we stopped our atomic weapons program
- Which we never had
- And it's the fault of the Americans
- Because they used "satellite and espionage activities" to find out about our nuclear weapons program
- That we've said doesn't exist
- And never did exist
- And so, the American military will not even think about attacking us ("We rule out the option of military strike against Iran after the release of this report," is what an Iranian official said)
- Bush is a liar
The American military has a very poor track record for taking orders from foreign officials. The latest directive from Tehran is no exception. "Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John Sattler, director of strategic plans and policy for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said U.S. military crisis planning on Iran has not changed after the report."
I think Iran is going to stay in the news, off and on, for quite a few years. So is the question of Iran's nuclear program and military options. Understanding just what some terms mean is important: particularly in places where the general public has some say in what their government does.
Terms like "nuclear weapons," "nuclear program," and "enriched uranium" pop up quite a bit in connection with Iran.
"Enriched uranium" is uranium ore that's been purified. Nuclear power plants need uranium ore that's at most 5 percent uranium. Nuclear bombs need uranium that's 90 percent pure.
Since there's no point in having a big bomb, if there's no way to deliver it, let's look at what Iran has in stock, and what it can order, in the way of missiles.
For starters, there's the X-55 Long Range Cruise Missile, a Russian product, inappropriately sold to Iran by a third party. This robot airplane only has a range of 3,000 km (a little under 1,900 miles). Iran could hit places like Eastern Europe, Egypt, and India, but that's about it. Oh, yes: parts of Russia, too.
Shahab-5 or Shahab-6 missiles (Iranian versions of the North Korean Taepo Dong models), with ranges of 5,500 and 10,000 km, would give Iran a clear shot at all of Europe and China, most of Africa, and the most heavily populated parts of Russia.
You need three things to have a usable nuclear weapons system: enriched uranium that's at least 90 percent pure; a vehicle that will get go far enough to hit your target; and a bomb that will put the enriched uranium into the vehicle, and push it above critical mass at the right time.
Right now, it looks like this is where Iran stands:
- Long-range missiles
In stock, or available
- Enriched Uranium
Some on hand, more in production
- A working nuclear bomb to put the enriched uranium in the missile
Work stopped in 2003, ready to re-start
Of course, I'm biased, and so are the Europeans: but they've got a much bigger reason to be concerned.