Current transparency compliances, technological incapabilities, lacks of enriched uranium, domestic and geopolitics prevent Iran from having a nuke, Joseph Cirincione writes at The Washington Post.
In his column, “Fine Myths About Iran’s Nuclear Program” at The Washington Post, Joseph Cirincione writes: “Iran is on the verge of developing a nuclear weapon” as Myth #1:
There have been claims since the 1990s that Iran was a few years away from a bomb. Then, two years ago, U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Iran had discontinued its dedicated nuclear weapon efforts in 2003. Today, the consensus among experts is that Iran has the technical ability to make a crude nuclear device within one to three years — but there is no evidence that its leaders have decided to do so.
The regime’s most likely path to the bomb begins in Natanz, in central Iran, the site of the nuclear facility where over the past three years about 1,500 kilograms of uranium gas has been enriched to low levels. Iran could kick out U.N. inspectors, abandon the Non-Proliferation Treaty and reprocess the gas into highly enriched uranium in about six months; it would take at least six more months to convert that uranium into the metal form required for one bomb. Technical problems with both processes could stretch this period to three years. Finally, Iran would need perhaps five additional years — and several explosive tests — to develop a Hiroshima-yield bomb that could be fitted onto a ballistic missile….
On Oct. 1, Iran agreed to ship most of this uranium to Russia for fabrication into reactor fuel; we will know in the next few weeks if it will keep that pledge. If it does, Iran’s “break-out” capability — the ability to produce a bomb quickly — would be eliminated, at least for the two years it takes to enrich more uranium.
Myth #2, according to Mr. Cirincione, is that a military strike would have any positive consequences:
Worse, after such a bombing, the Iranian population — now skeptical of its leadership — would probably rally around the regime, ending any internal debates on whether to build a bomb. Iran would put its nuclear program on fast-forward to create weapons to defend itself. It could also counterattack against Israel or other U.S. allies. This month, a top official of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard threatened to “blow up the heart of Israel” if the United States or Israel attacks first.
On the merits of a U.S. strike, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said he worries about “the possible unintended consequences of a strike like that . . . having an impact throughout the region that would be difficult to predict.”
Attacking Iran would not end the problem; it could start a third U.S. war in the region.
Of course, at this point, Iran will have to divert all research and development resources toward the war that would ensue. The already incapable Iran would be set back years in its development. As Mr. Cirincione points out in Myth #1, withdrawing from the international transparency agreements necessary for Iran to produce a nuclear weapon still leaves too much time to allow for the imminent U.S.-Israeli strike.
The next three myths are: sanctions can cripple Iran, regime change would do away with Iran’s program and that Iran is the main nuclear threat in the region.
To the final myth, he points to Israel’s lone-nuclear arsenal in the Middle East not sparking other nuclear weapons programs. A threat could only be that an enhanced nuclear energy program in Iran would spark others, forcing for the necessity of more watchdogging. This does not make the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty—to which Iran is compliant—dissolve into thin air.