Assessments have garnered information Iran will be able to produce 25 kilograms of “weapons-grade” fuel (highly enriched uranium) in 2 to 4 months, according to former UN inspectors. Iran consistently denies it is developing atomic weapons, while U.S. President Barack Obama insists it is the world’s responsibility to not let that happen, and PM Binyamin Netanyahu continually clamors for a joint-strike. Mitt Romney has accused Barack Obama of being “too soft” on this matter.
The Obama administration is steadfast in their approach of waiting for economic sanctions to take affect in the Islamic Republic. In the past two weeks, as a result of internal political strife in Iran, such as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s increasing unpopularity, waning parliamentary authority and a nearing presidential election, the Iranian currency, (the rial), has tumbled in value 40%. According to the website resourceinvestor.com, “Riots have begun. Its [Iran’s] government has rapidly lost its authority. And the Iranian economy is unraveling. This has all the markings of a full-blown crisis. It will have an uncertain impact on the region and the wider oil market. This could get very unpredictable and very nasty.”
A source in the EU Energy Commissioner’s office told the website on October 6, "The current perception is that the sanctions may have to be increased before Tehran will show clear signs of relenting.” Meanwhile, a report says there has been a 50% drop in oil exports in the last year, an estimated inflation rate of 70% and an unemployment rate at 35%.
An embargo on Iranian oil imports went into effect on July 1, in the European Union.
“Iranian access to international banking has been limited,” according to resourceinvestor.com. “And more recently, the US added sanctions against Bank Markazi (the Iranian Central Bank) and its network. These events have had two overarching results.”
Iran’s largest uranium enrichment facility is in Natanz. The country has a stockpile, according to the IAEA, of 91.4 kilograms of enriched uranium (enriched to 20%). U.S. officials surmise Iran could build an atomic weapon in 12 to 18 months, if an order is given by Ayatollah Khamenei. IAEA agents inspect the sites in Qom and Natanz about two times per month. There are also IAEA cameras monitoring the facilities.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press recently reported: “…the Intelligence Ministry now hosts a website with addresses of provincial offices, appeals for tips and anti-American essays that mock rising obesity rates, large prison populations and school shootings.” The address to the website is www.vaja.ir.
“There's no mission statement on the site, but it appears part of stepped-up attempts by Iran's leadership to promote national unity and project its authority amid Western sanctions and international isolation,” reads the AP report. “After protests in Tehran last week over Iran's slumping currency, the nationally broadcast Friday prayers tapped heavily into the theme of shared sacrifice in times of trouble.” The Iranian clerical leadership see the EU and UN sanctions as a “war against a nation”.