Countering Iranian Mini-Nukes

January 29, 2006

There’s no doubt that Iran is building nukes, but we don’t know what type. A report today suggests (to me) that they may plan bombs that can be detonated by Palestinian suicide bombers inside Israel. Israel should quickly block this option by promising Iran with massive retaliation if any nuke explodes in its vicinity.

The drab compound that houses the Iranian embassy in Pyongyang is the focus of intense scrutiny by diplomats and intelligence services who believe that North Korea is negotiating to sell the Iranians plutonium from its newly enlarged stockpile — a sale that would hand Tehran a rapid route to the atomic bomb.

The Americans were aghast to learn last year that while engaging in disarmament talks, North Korea had made enough plutonium to amass a stockpile of about 43 kilograms, perhaps as much as 53kg

…Plutonium is the element used to fuel the bomb that destroyed Nagasaki in 1945. Between 7kg and 9kg are needed for a weapon.

Actually, this suggests (page 55, hardcover) that a full implosion bomb can be made with under 1 kg (2 pounds) of Plutonium, and is about six inches in diameter. The yield isn’t stated, but I’m guessing it’s around a kiloton. That’s too small to bust a city, but it would make a mess of a nightclub full of kids, or targets like this, hat tip American Future:

On the West Bank, a Palestinian university in Nablus has been putting on an exhibition celebrating the Palestinian suicide bombing of a family pizza restaurant in Israel. The exhibition consisted of a replica of the Sbarro’s restaurant complete with Hebrew inscriptions. Inside the exhibit, replicas of human body parts and pizza slices were strewn. Pictures published on the Internet showed Palestinians waiting in line to see the exhibit.

Conventional wisdom is that the Mullahs wont dare hit Israel, and will just use their weapons to control the oil in Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and to scare the Europeans into subservience.

I’m sure they’ll do that, but it’s worth looking carefully at what they’ve said about Israel – just because they’re nutters don’t mean they don’t have a plan. Here’s Alazeera quoting Iran’s president:

“The establishment of the Zionist regime was a move by the world oppressor against the Islamic world,” the president told a conference in Tehran on Wednesday, entitled The World without Zionism. “The skirmishes in the occupied land are part of a war of destiny. The outcome of hundreds of years of war will be defined in Palestinian land,” he said. “As the Imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map,” said Ahmadinejad, referring to Iran’s revolutionary leader Ayat Allah Khomeini.

He’s not saying that Iran will do the wiping, just that it will happen as part of the Palestinian war on Israel.

So they might provide small nuclear weapons to the Palestinians, and when the weapons detonate squeal as loudly as possible “it wasn’t us!”. If they arranged to be surrounded by lots of Euro diplomats in Tehran when the hit was made, that might delay Israeli retaliation, giving the Euros time to apply maximum pressure on Israel to give peace a chance, etc.

Israel should block this with a public statement that any nuclear weapon detonating on or near Israeli territory will trigger massive and immediate retaliation against Iran.