Friday, July 30, 2004
1. PASSING GAS: IRAN PROCEEDS WITH URANIUM ENRICHMENT PROGRAM.
European officials made no progress this week in persuading Iran to cease production of uranium hexafluoride gas, centrifuges, and other elements of its newly resumed uranium enrichment program. Colin Powell accuses Iran of attempting to make a nuclear bomb, but Iran insists its only interest is peaceful energy production (like they have an energy shortage?) The IAEA declined to comment on whether Iran is in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Israel, a non-signatory, hints that it might consider a military strike against Iran's facilities. Try it, Iran replied, and we will wipe Israel "off the face of the earth." Rather than submit quietly like Libya (which surrendered its entire stockpile of slingshots), Iran and North Korea seem to be persuaded that they can defy the international community. Then again, only countries without weapons of mass destruction are getting invaded these days.
2. MISSILE DEFENSE: INTERCEPTOR EMPLACED IN SILO AT FORT GREELY.
"It marks the end of an era during which we could not defend our caribou against long-range ballistic missile attacks," General Persiflage told reporters at a Missile Defense Agency briefing. Alas, I was the only one there; everyone else was covering the campaign. "But is it true," I asked, "that the interceptor has not been tested?" "Of course," he snapped, "the whole purpose of a missile defense is to sow doubt in the mind of any would-be attacker. All testing would do is remove the uncertainty."
3. CONGRESS TO LOS ALAMOS: "SHAPE UP TO GOVERNMENT STANDARDS."
Two data storage devices missing from Los Alamos created an uproar last week (WN 23 Jul 04). They still haven't been found, but twenty scientists have since taken early retirement and research is still suspended while the search continues. In fact, the disease has infected other Department of Energy labs as well. DOE ordered classified research to stop at Argonne, Oak Ridge, Sandia, and two dozen other locations where similar removable disks are used while an inventory is completed. Saying, "Congress is not going to tolerate the lack of security of classified material at Los Alamos any longer," Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, demands lie-detector tests for 200 Los Alamos employees, Whoa! Someone should demand that the Congressman submit to a memory test. A year ago, at the request of Congress and the DOE, a National Academy of Sciences panel found the polygraph to be useless for DOE security screening. WN recommends replacing polygraph testing with a simple coin toss. It's guaranteed to finger half the miscreants. The only downside will be a few false positives.
Paul Gresser contributed to this week's issue of What's New.