Yesterday, at a meeting of the Santa Fe

, retired Los Alamos National Laboratory engineer Arvid Lundy spoke on a range of subjects related to the very salient theme of Iran's nuclear weapons project.

After close to an hour of photos, statistics, histories and thoughts on Iran, SFReeper asked Lundy to clarify a point to which he had alluded: that were no one to intervene in Iran's nuclear plans (for power or otherwise), Iran would end up with nuclear weapons “sooner.” So...no matter what happens, they'll have nuclear weapons at some point?

“I think it's likely,” Lundy replied.

In addition to his position at LANL, Lundy has worked as a technical adviser to the US Department of State and has consulted with the

(IAEA) for  years. He's tall, broad-shouldered and balding, and he speaks slowly, a big smile spreading across his face whenever he gets to explain a convoluted idea or theory. For years, Lundy has had an abiding interest in Iran, and especially in its nuclear program, which essentially began in 1967 with the startup of a US-supplied—yes, US-supplied—research reactor at Tehran University. (Interesting fact: Lundy says that's the same reactor for which the US is now trying to make Iran buy its uranium from Russia and France, a demand

.) Ever since the IAEA asked him to find out what he could about Iran, Lundy has spent his free time poring over books, technical articles and Iranian blogs.

After explaining what he knew of Iranian culture (“I can hardly call myself an expert,” he said humbly) and giving a brief rundown of the country's nuclear history, Lundy showed slides of the various nuclear plants currently in operation (and under regular IAEA inspection). But he suspects Iran's nuclear program goes much further—into the realm of weapons-grade uranium hidden deep in tunnels and bunkers.

“We haven't found proof that they're running a weapons program,” Lundy told an audience of 80 at the Santa Fe Hilton. “I have no doubt that they are.”

The smoking gun, according to Lundy, is the fact that Iran won't just buy its enriched uranium from somewhere else; instead, its leaders have been insisting for years that they want to do their own enrichment—which suggests they're going for something other than nuclear power generation. What's more, Lundy says, two potential weapons-related sites were quickly razed before international agencies could inspect them.

An obvious question arose: Why does Iran want nuclear weapons?

They're fiercely independent, they have a deep distrust of the world, and the theocracy wants to maintain authority at all costs,” Lundy says. Not that Iran's mistrust of the US is unfounded; it's pretty much public knowledge that the

the democratically elected Iranian prime minister, Mohammad Mosadeq, in 1953, and US-Iranian relations have been strained at best since then.

On Thursday, Lundy said he didn't expect Iran to accept the US and UN's

of a regulated nuclear program, but he points out that even just communicating with Iran is a step forward.

“This is a very open project,” he says of Iran's nuclear program, “compared to the North Korean project, or the Pakistani project.”

The Santa Fe Council on International Relations meets to listen to speakers like Lundy about eight times a year. For more information, visit

.

Graphic courtesy of Wikimedia.