Contrary to most of the inflammatory, lying press coverage of the IAEA report on Iran's nuclear program issued last week, the report actually shows that Iran has reduced the amount of 20% enriched uranium available for weapons-grade enrichment. This is the result of a major acceleration in the fabrication of metal fuel plates for the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR), which needs 20% enriched uranium to produce medical isotopes. As a result of this, Iran's program is creating fuel plates faster than it has been enriching uranium over the past three months.
This fact was covered up or buried in most of last week's war-mongering news coverage of the IAEA report. As Gareth Porter of IPS points out in a Sept. 1 article, among major coverage last week, only the Washington Post noted on Aug. 31, that Iran had converted much of its new material into metal form for the TRR, explaining that this means it cannot be further enriched to weapons-grade material. But the Post's front-page summary said "Iran has dramatically increased its production of a more enriched form of uranium." The New York Times said in one story that Iran had "doubled the number of centrifuges installed at Fordow," and in a second story claimed that Iran's nuclear program is "speeding up" and was getting close to what Israel called its "red line"; the Times made no reference to the fuel plates. (Monday's New York Times says, buried deep in a long article, that the IAEA report "indicated that Iran has converted some of its most highly enriched fuel to a form that would be difficult to use in a weapon.")
"Nobody has put out the story that their stockpile is shrinking," said Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund and a leading specialist on nuclear weapons policy (also on the International Security Advisory Board we have recently identified as working on war avoidance), in an interview with IPS. Cirincione believes that Iran is building up its enrichment capacity, but is not using it, thus gaining leverage for future bargaining. "The Iranians are excellent chess players. They are moving their pieces very carefully," he said. "They are continuing to enhance the value of their bargaining chips."