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Is Iran's nuclear program 'brisk walk' or 'sprint'?

September 4th, 2012
05:25 PM ET

By Samuel Burke, CNN

Reports that Iran is drawing still closer to nuclear weapons capability are ratcheting up the already high tensions between Israel and its ally the United States.

According to the latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran has doubled the number of centrifuges it has installed underneath a mountain at the Fordo complex, beyond the reach of an Israeli attack.

Karim Sadjadpour, an expert on Iran at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, says there are two ways of looking at that report.

“One is that Iran has made some forward progress. But another way of looking at it is that Iran’s approach has been fairly deliberate and mindful of not wanting to cross certain red lines that could trigger military action.”

But Israeli officials have publically stated they believe Iran is ramming ahead. 

“Well, I would argue that they’re not in a nuclear sprint,” Sadjadpour says. “They have taken a much more deliberate approach – it’s more about a nuclear brisk walk.”

Diplomatic talks on Iran’s nuclear program have gone nowhere. And with no progress to report, the media is filled with rumors and speculation; among them is that an Israeli attack on Iran is imminent.

In the Israeli press there are reports that frustration over the U.S.’ lack of support for an attack on Iran resulted in a shouting match between Israeli Prime Minister  Benjamin Netanyahu and the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro.

The U.S. government is denying these rumors.

David Sanger, Chief Washington Correspondent for The New York Times says there’s been tension for a number of years, but right now, with the U.S. Presidential election looming in November, the pressure is mounting.

“[Israel’s] leverage is highest before the election, because if they did act, President Obama would have very little choice other than to back them completely, even though he has said that an attack right now would be counterproductive. That’s the core of this increasingly tense back-and-forth between the U.S. and Israel, but also involves the question of whether sanctions or other covert action would be more useful at this point.”

General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told Britain's Guardian newspaper, "I don't want to be complicit," if Israel attacks Iran. The Israeli press focused on his use of the world “complicit.”

But Sanger says he thinks the message is actually that if Israel acts unilaterally – without a U.N. blessing and without a broader coalition – then it could be increasingly isolated in the region.

“You might actually see a wave of sympathy toward Iran at a time that the U.S., working with its European allies and working with Israel, have been trying to build up this big coalition to squeeze Iran’s oil revenues, to participate in other activities, including some covert activities, to make it much harder for the Iranians to get to nuclear fuel.”


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soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Joseph Bloughsteinbergman

    The fact that Iran is protecting its nuclear power program from being attacked by moving equipment to an underground facility is not itself evidence that Iran is building nuclear weapons, in fact they would be negligent not to protect it.

    IAEA inspectors are onsite at Iran's underground facility (and all of its other nuclear sites) to ensure that it is not enriching beyond the 20% level allowed under the NPT, so until there is PROOF that Iran is enriching to the much higher levels needed to create a nuclear weapon, the possibility of Israel igniting a region wide war represents a far greater threat to the world peace and economies than Iran's nuclear energy program.

    The US was duped into the most costly war since WWII by similar unproven accusations about Iraq's WMD's etc. once before, so I hope we have learned from that are will not allow Netanyahu's radical right wing government to lure us down that same road once again.

    September 4, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Reply
    • Thinker23

      Israel will not use force against Iran unless as a last resort in case there will be no other way to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. If you think that this is not the case you should have no troubled to explain the benefits Israel will possibly gain from attacking PEACEFUL Iran. Further, if you believe that Iran has no intentions to obtain nuclear weapons you should have no troubles to explain HOW will Iran possibly use hundreds of its intermediate- and long range nuclear capable ballistic missiles that are virtually harmless without proper warheads. I'm all ears...

      September 4, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Reply
  2. john2397

    Why Israel should worry of Iran's bomb? When she has more than 200 latest nuke bombs, Bunker buster bombs from the USA at free of cost; American iron clad guarantee in case of any nuke attack of any one including Iran and after imposing iron fist sanctions on Iran to make almost all Iranians to suffer.
    Looks like; Israel is not interested in resolving the issue peacefully allowing face saving solution to Iran but would like to take full advantage of the issue in crippling Iran and changing the regime more favorable to Israel and converting the entire middle east in to blood bath of Shias and Sunnis and Arabs and Persians. But Obama and his advisers do understand that America is paying very heavy price of Iraq fiasco and now not in a mood to repeat it again in Iran.

    September 4, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Reply
    • Thinker23

      If my neighbor was running around with a gun yelling that he is going to kill me and my family members I WOULD be worried even if I had three machine guns in my kitchen.

      September 4, 2012 at 8:24 pm | Reply
    • Thinker23

      It's not up to Israel to "resolve the issue allowing face saving solution to Iran". After all, it's Iranian leaders who repeatedly declared that the Jewish State had no right to exist and had to be erased from the map. The simplest face saving solution for Iran would be to declare its willingness to make peace with Israel. Israel would gladly agree.

      September 4, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Reply
    • john 2

      Irans rhetoric for some time now has been most provocative, demanding israels exsdtinction how should a country react and make peace when the other side wants to wipe you out, Think nexttime dontnbe a putz

      September 7, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Reply
  3. USAFrank

    People of the United States of America,
    The Democrates have removed and mention of GOD and support for Israel from it's Platform at the DNC Convention.
    Next thing you know .President Obama will be kissing Irans President "The Little Nazi" on both cheeks when he comes to speak at the UN next week.

    September 4, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Reply
  4. Bartalamu

    The only tension I can see is the host(Ali) feeling tension for his program's ratings. He is talking laud, fast, and is hyperventilating.... Tranquilo dude!

    September 4, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Reply
  5. Prof. Taheri

    The details of an Israeli attack on Iran are revealed in Jonathan Bloomfield’s book, “Palestine.”

    September 4, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Reply
    • Thinker23

      You should learn to tell science fiction from non-science fiction, "Prof"...

      September 5, 2012 at 5:48 am | Reply
  6. Radioceleb99

    The US and Israel are on the same page. Anything to the contrary is a Red Herring. There will be US support for an attack, but it will be limited to military defense infrastructure and nuclear facilities.

    The administration’s is letting Israel take the lead in beating the war drums. The Israeli government is engaged in psychological game of Chinese Water Torture aimed at ratcheting up the rhetoric on both sides.

    The risk in attacking Iran has nothing to do with the attack itself. Obama understands that sanctions are unlikely to move the current regime to the bargaining table. The tighter sanctions against Iran are designed to impair, degrade and slow their ability to repair their physical infrastructure post attack. The longer the sanctions are in place, the more degraded and weakened Iran will be on the day of the attack. A substantially weakened infrastructure is central to degrading Iran’s ability to project retaliation against their gulf neighbors in the weeks and months that follow.

    September 4, 2012 at 11:46 pm | Reply
    • Thinker23

      You forgot to EXPLAIN THE REASONS Israel (and the US) would be willing to attack PEACEFUL Iran...

      September 5, 2012 at 5:49 am | Reply
  7. Divest from War Campaign

    Obama could just announce to the world that US arms cannot be used for an illegal war, or all military aid to Israel will stop.

    Oops, I forgot that he will be impeached if he tries to pull that off, because the US Congre$$, bless their hearts, are in the back pocket of AIPAC.

    I guess we citizens are on our own, since our so-called "leaders" are bought and paid for. One way that we as individual citizens can make our voices heard (forget writing to your member of Congre$$ on this issue) is for all of us to pledge to BOYCOTT ISRAEL IF IT ATTACKS IRAN. Please sign the pledge at

    http://www.divestfomwar.org

    and spread the world. Let us (nonviolently) increase the cost to Israel of starting Middle East War III. Maybe we can help to avert one this time, instead of just protesting it after the fact.

    September 5, 2012 at 12:54 am | Reply
    • Thinker23

      "Illegal" means "in violation of the law". There is no law forbidding one nation to defend itself in case it is attacked by another nation, genius. In this particular case, it is PERFECTLY LEGAL for Israel to fight back in in case it is attacked by Iran or to use force against Iran in case there will be no other way to prevent an imminent Iranian attack. Similarly, it is PERFECTLY LEGAL for the US to help its allies during a war (you may recall the US helping Britain and other countries during WWII as an example).

      September 5, 2012 at 5:53 am | Reply
  8. Shahram

    First who the hell is Israel to draw any line? Let the Israelis bomb then what? Israelis want somebody else to spend for their war and die for them and this administration is not budging to put American soldiers in harm’s way like Iraq.

    September 5, 2012 at 1:30 am | Reply
    • Thinker23

      Israel is a sovereign state and it is up to Israel to decide if and when there is no other way than to use force in order to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

      September 5, 2012 at 5:54 am | Reply
      • Mason

        Mr thinker 23 ,are you just all talk or you are going to land in Abadan or Azerbaijan to face brave Iranian?I assume you want the American boys to do the fight for you because your chosen IDF could not defeat the HEZBOALLAH.We should immediately stop paying ISRAEL any kind monetary funds and take that money to settle Chicago teacher dispute.

        September 9, 2012 at 9:45 am |
  9. Mr LOL

    US and Israel preaching Iran on nukes is like a fat biatch giving diet advise to much slimmer person. lol! Iran has been calling for nuke-free world by 2025. It did it again at NAM summit but don't expect CNN or other MSM mention anything about it. Israel needs a hitler to survive and creates one all the time,.. Kamal, Gaddfi, Saddam, and now Ahmadinejad.. tomorrow: whoever dares to stand up to Israel's criminal and racist policies.

    September 5, 2012 at 11:38 am | Reply
    • Thinker23

      I'm not sure what you mean by "Israel's criminal and racist policies" but it's not HAVING a weapon but WILLINGNESS TO USE IT that is a problem. You may understand it better if you'll recall that most of us have no problems with cops carrying guns but we HAVE a problem with violent criminals carrying the very same guns.

      September 5, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Reply
  10. ERB CCBC

    As said even though this is a priority, Obama is focusing on being re elected. So if Isreal is hoping to get any support from the U.S right now its not going to work, even if they were to attack now. The tension between U.S and Isreal is only overheating because we are not moving when they want us to. If Iran is drawing closer to getting nuclear weapons(I say find out for sure) Isreal cant expect the U.S to throw out everything we have to defend them. I believe Isreal is expecting us to fight their battle using our military and weapons. Supporting them is something different. Limited weapon support would be ok in my opinion if we decide to help out. However, Im a big believer in fighting your own battles and wars. Even though creating allies have been going on for a LONG time, the reality is no country wants to inherent another mans problems. This is just more money that have to shelled out for another country. If the red line is crossed let it be crossed between Isreal and Iran.

    September 5, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Reply
  11. RadioCeleb99

    The US and Israel are on the same page. Anything to the contrary is a Red Herring. There will be US support for an attack, but it will be limited to military defense infrastructure and nuclear facilities.

    The administration’s is letting Israel take the lead in beating the war drums. The Israeli government is engaged in a psychological game of Chinese Water Torture aimed at ratcheting up the rhetoric on both sides.

    The risk in attacking Iran has nothing to do with the attack itself. Obama understands that sanctions are unlikely to move the current regime to the bargaining table. The tighter sanctions against Iran are designed to impair, degrade and slow their ability to repair their physical infrastructure post attack.

    The longer the sanctions are in place, the more degraded and weakened Iran will be on the day of the attack. A substantially weakened infrastructure is central to degrading Iran’s ability to project retaliation against their gulf neighbors in the weeks and months that follow.

    September 6, 2012 at 7:57 am | Reply
  12. AB

    What an unjust world order.A sole nuke bomb possessor calling on US to join him in destroying another country that doesnt av the bomb yet.What Bibi hawks are doing is not strange it is in tandem with their history "call dog a bad name" it was SADDAM then to ARAFAT now to IRAN.Israel will never feel save and secure in as long as it refuse to make peace with Palestinians.No one is talking about palestine peace process again because of Iran.The survival of Israel is honestly doubtful unless something change in the govt.policies and psyche.Americans are wiser bcos now they know Israel is more of liability than asset.

    September 8, 2012 at 10:44 am | Reply
  13. David Chipley

    It is absolutely shameful that the Israeli government is using the current politial climate to blackmail the U.S. and effectively alter the presidential elecation in favour of their candidate (Mitt). All of this noise about attacking Iran is non-sense. Both Bibi and Barak know that they may be able start a war with Iran, but they have no way of ending it or affecting its direction. And no one has enough guts to call their big bluff. GO AHEAD, MAKE MY DAY.

    September 8, 2012 at 11:25 pm | Reply
  14. Marin County Chiropractor

    I get pleasure from, cause I discovered exactly what I used to be having a look for. You've ended my four day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man. Have a nice day. Bye

    December 20, 2012 at 10:08 pm | Reply

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