Former Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton is urging senators who will consider the nomination of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense to force Hagel to make clear his views about Iran’s nuclear program, claiming Barack Obama and the West have made a terrible mistake in allowing Iran to continue enriching uranium.
Bolton highlights a danger that has been lost in the shuffle: when U.S. negotiators stopped insisting that Iran drop uranium enrichment and allowed Iran to proceed toward “reactor-grade” levels, (roughly 4% of the U-235 isotope), it was far more dangerous than the public realized. The U.S. negotiators lamely excused their tolerance of Iran moving toward 4% by asserting that 4% was a far cry from 20% enrichment, the goal Iran initially wanted. to move toward their ultimate goal of 90% for use in nuclear weapons.
But as Bolton explains, the problem is that 4% enrichment is far more difficult to achieve from the natural 0.7% found in natural uranium than it is to enrich to 20% from 4%. At only 4% enrichment, 70% of the work required to reach 90% enrichment has been done. Once 4% is reached, 20% is only three weeks of work away.
Hagel’s positions on Iran have been notoriously soft; the facts Bolton presents concerning enrichment make it vital that the senators dig deep, both into Hagel’s views to see where he currently stands and also to find out exactly how far Barack Obama is willing to permit Iran to become the world’s newest nuclear threat.