Iran announced Sunday that its scientists had produced the country's first nuclear fuel rods. If true, the "alarming" development would mark a big advance in Iran's ability to create nuclear energy or nuclear weapons. The news came as President Obama signed legislation toughening sanctions meant to urge Tehran to halt its nuclear program. Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum greeted Iran's claim by saying that the U.S. may soon be forced to launch military strikes. Should we be worried?
This is very bad news: If Iran really has built and tested its own fuel rods, says Rick Moran at The American Thinker, that would mean it can "build its own small nuclear reactor in order to process uranium into plutonium" instead of having to get its fuel from Russia. What makes this unexpected news more "worrisome": Iran is currently test-firing missiles over the Straits of Hormuz, a critical oil-tanker gateway.
"Iran test fires new surface to air missile"
But there's no need to panic yet: "While any development of Iran's nuclear program is certainly cause for some alarm," says Jonathan Moormann at Ology, "it is probably too early to be overly concerned." As it has done in the past, Tehran is likely exaggerating its capabilities in an attempt to strengthen its hand in upcoming negotiations with the West. And even if Iran can make fuel rods, the country's scientists are probably nowhere near "weaponizing their nuclear technology."
"Iran claims to have produced its first nuclear fuel rod"
If you're not scared, you're in denial: It's time to stop "pretending that the Islamic Republic of Iran has friendly intentions," says Khalaf Al Habtoor in the United Arab Emirates' Gulf News. Tehran's mullahs have been inciting their fellow Shiites to revolt in neighboring countries, and flexing their muscles in the Straits of Hormuz. Iran is out to build a nuclear bomb and rule the Persian Gulf region — anyone who can't see that now is in "a state of denial." It's time to get tough. "What are we waiting for?"
"Time to react to open Iranian threats"