Something is happening in Iran. Forces are in motion. But what is happening? And who are the forces that are on the move? Since this week's bombing in Isfahan, the world media is rife with speculation that the war with Iran over its nuclear weapons program has begun. But if the war has begun, who is fighting it? What are their aims? And what are their methods and means of attack?
On Wednesday the Times of London published a much-cited article about this week's blast in Isfahan. The article referred to the bombed installation as a "uranium enrichment facility."
But there is no uranium enrichment facility at Isfahan. Rather there is a uranium conversion facility.
As the news analysis website The Missing Peace explained, a UCF is an installation where yellowcake is converted into uranium hexafluoride, or UF6. In Iran, the UF6 from Isfahan is sent to Natanz, where it is enriched.
While Isfahan's UCF may be a reasonable target in an all-out attack on Iran's nuclear program, it is not a vital installation. According to American military analyst J.E. Dyer, it would not be a priority target for Western governments whose primary goal is to neutralize Iran's nuclear weapons program.
As Dyer put it in a blog post at Hot Air, "Western governments make their targeting decisions based on criteria that would put the Isfahan UCF several notches down the list of things that need to be struck in November 2011. It's a workhorse facility in the fissile-material production network, and it's already done what needs to be done to assemble an arsenal of multiple weapons. Uranium conversion is also 'mastered technology'; Iran can reconstitute it relatively quickly."
Dyer concludes that due to the site's low value to Western governments, "It is extremely unlikely that a Western government" perpetrated the attack.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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