Iran defiantly continues to expand its uranium enrichment program despite international sanctions and multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions, according to a report from the International Atomic Energy Agency. Iran has begun installing advanced centrifuges that will increase the rate of enrichment and reduce the amount of time it needs to acquire the fissile material for a nuclear weapon.
The report also indicated that Iran plans to begin operating a heavy water nuclear reactor at Arak in early 2014 that will be capable of producing enough plutonium to arm two nuclear bombs per year. This will give Tehran a second route to a nuclear weapon.
On February 6, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei rejected the Obama Administration’s offer of bilateral talks on the nuclear issue, accusing the United States of “holding a gun before the Iranian nation and saying let’s talk, otherwise, we will shoot.” This rebuff lowered the already low expectations that multilateral talks set for February 26 in Kazakhstan will yield a breakthrough.
Meanwhile, there were new reports concerning Iranian support for terrorism and insurgencies on several fronts. Last Thursday, the Nigerian government announced that it had arrested members of an Iranian-trained “terror cell” that planned to attack American and Israeli targets in Nigeria. This came shortly after Bahrain’s government accused Iran’s Revolutionary Guards of establishing a terrorist cell that planned to attack Bahrain’s airport and Ministry of Interior.
Last Wednesday a member of the Iran-supported Hezbollah terrorist group admitted at his trial in Cyprus that he gathered information about buses carrying Israeli tourists. He was arrested last July, shortly before five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver were killed in a Hezbollah bombing of their bus in Burgas, Bulgaria.
The revelations in the trial in Cyprus will generate added pressure on the European Union to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, which is long overdue.
Iran has avoided paying a significant price for its long-running support for terrorism, and Iranian officials continue to be rewarded for their roles in Iran’s shadow war. This week one of them announced his candidacy for the presidency in Iran’s June election: Ali Fallahian, a former intelligence minister who is wanted by Interpol due to his involvement in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, that killed 85 people.
Iran’s bloody track record in exporting terrorism is a major reason that Tehran must be blocked from acquiring the world’s most terrifying weapons.