By Brien Southward
In what Western news outlets have called a media stunt to draw attention to its thirty-year-old nuclear program and the diplomatic incidents it has caused, Iran unveiled their new nuclear technology on Wednesday. The technological advances include a newer type of centrifuge for isolating Uranium 235, an isotope required by both nuclear reactors and nuclear bombs.
Displaying the technology in a live television broadcast, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that "the era of bullying nations has passed. The arrogant powers cannot monopolize nuclear technology," in reference to the 31 nations worldwide that use nuclear power, having 439 reactors between them, and the 9 nations that have nuclear weapons. "They tried to prevent us by issuing sanctions and resolutions but failed. Our nuclear path will continue."
Iran has been staunchly defiant in the face of Western economic measures, and both sides have made displays of military force. According to Tehran, the West has also not been afraid to use violence to slow its nuclear research: in the past few years, four Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated, attacks that Tehran says were orchestrated by Israel and the United States.
Iran has consistently stated that its research is solely to provide nuclear power to meet the industrializing nation's growing demand, but the science and technology of both nuclear power and nuclear weapons are largely the same. Once Iran can produce Uranium 235 reliably, it's only a matter of time before they accumulate enough of it to create weapons-grade uranium.
Nonetheless, a State Department spokeswoman described the technology as "not terribly new and not terribly impressive" and added that "We frankly don't see a lot new here. This is not big news. In fact it seems to have been hyped." Israel's defense minister expressed similar sentiments, saying that Iran's claims of dramatic advancements in its nuclear program are exaggerated, even as they remain a threat.