In spreading disorder, Iran’s nuclear assets are matter of concern

As the Islamic Republic slides deeper into unrest, the fate of Iran’s nuclear resources is becoming a pressing matter of concern, DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s Washington sources reported Friday, June 19. Iran’s nuclear program is far more advanced than generally acknowledged in the West; so is its ballistic missile development. Should factional strife or civil war paralyze central government, those assets would become vulnerable.
Iran has accumulated a mountain of nuclear data and a large staff of scientists working inter alia on enriched uranium. Facing opposition in Pakistan, al Qaeda might find Iran a tempting proposition. Its tacticians have long shown an aptitude for operational opportunism; more than once they managed to about-turn and relocate jihadi manpower to new arenas more rapidly than the transfer of Western forces.
This situation has a nightmarish precedent. After the collapse of the Soviet empire in the early 90s, it later transpired that at least 12 nuclear cruise missiles and four Kh-55 nuclear warheads were stolen from the Russian stockpile in the Ukraine and reached the hands of Iran and China who copied their nuclear technology. And scores of “nuclear suitcases” designed as tactical weapons for Russian special forces vanished and were never traced.
Iran lacks nuclear products of this level of sophistication but it has accumulated a large quantity of enriched uranium and valuable prototypes of nuclear devices and warheads, ballistic missiles and a great deal of know-how for making “dirty bombs.” In a breakdown of order in Iran, those scientists may well decide to take off and peddle their nuclear trove to the highest bidder. The strained relations between the Islamic regime and Washington have made it impossible for the administration to access any leading Iranian official to help prevent Iran’s nuclear resources from reaching the wrong hands.
President Barak Obama is under pressure at home to extend more forceful encouragement to the protest movement rather than placating the regime.

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