Memo to Romney: Iran’s nuclear program has nothing to do with dirty bombs

Joe Cirincione, the President of the nuclear non-proliferation-focused Ploughshares Fund, explains why Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney “further undermined his national security credentials, showing a fundamental misunderstanding of nuclear threats” with remarks he made during a private fundraising dinner in May. “Iran’s nuclear program has nothing to do with dirty bombs”, writes Cirincione, and a potential president should be well aware of that fact:

Dirty bombs (which have never been used) are very different from nuclear bombs, which trigger a chain reaction in a small core of fissile material — highly-enriched uranium or plutonium — to produce a massive explosion. The explosion produces heat, blast, and radiation that all cause catastrophic damage.

Iran’s production of enriched uranium has nothing to do with dirty bombs. The core problem is that Iran is enriching uranium it says is for reactor fuel but could be turned into fuel for nuclear weapons. The most important reason to contain Iran’s nuclear program is to prevent a dangerous, destabilizing nuclear arms race in the Middle East and an emboldened Iranian regime — not to prevent Iran from giving terrorists nuclear materials for a dirty bomb. And it is crucial that anyone involved in the discussion of Iran’s nuclear program — and certainly the Republican presidential nominee — understand this.

Jasmin Ramsey

Jasmin Ramsey is a journalist based in Washington, DC.