Iran Waves a Red Cape in Front of the West (UPDATED)

By Jeffrey Goldberg

From Reuters:

Iran could soon launch sensitive atomic activities in an underground facility deep inside a mountain, diplomatic sources said on Wednesday, a development likely to add to tension between Tehran and the West.
 

Iranian experts have carried out the necessary preparations at Fordow near the holy city of Qom, paving the way for the Islamic state to begin higher-grade uranium enrichment at the site on a former military base.

The machines, equipment and nuclear material needed have been transferred and installed at Fordow, the sources added, suggesting the work itself -- until now conducted above ground at another location -- could start when Iran takes the decision.

This move seems inevitable. An Iranian leadership interested in protecting its centrifuges -- or in provoking an attack on its centrifuges for any one of a number of reasons (including providing itself with justification for a fast-tracked nuclear program and a withdrawal from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) -- would move its centrifuges inside a mountain. The question is, if the machinery is already in place in Fordow, is it too late for the Israelis to attack? I'm looking for more information on this subject.

UPDATE: This Iranian move might be related to the recent series of mysterious explosions at Iranian industrial facilities:

On Sunday, at least seven people were killed in an explosion at a steel mill in the Iranian city of Yazd. Foreign nationals, possibly North Korean nuclear arms experts, are believed to be among the dead.

The explosion follows two blasts that occurred in Iran in recent weeks at sites linked to Tehran's nuclear program.

Late last month, The Times of London reported that a mysterious blast that rocked Isfahan in western Iran days before damaged a key nuclear facility in the city.

If these blasts are indeed Israel's doing, then what is the strategy here? To drive the Iranians underground, in order to then attack the buried facilities? Everyone is playing a very dangerous game. Much better to place punitive sanctions of Iran's central bank, and try to force the issue that way, no?

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/12/iran-waves-a-red-cape-in-front-of-the-west-updated/249988/