Friday, July 31, 2015

Benjamin Netanyahu and Iran's Moving Nuclear Target Date

Let's open by looking at a speech given to the United Nations General Assembly by Benjamin Netanyahu on September 27, 2012:

Go to the 25 minute and 10 second mark where Benjamin Netanyahu begins to explain Iran's nuclear program using what can only be termed a Warner Brothers cartoon-like bomb:

"In the case of Iran's nuclear plans to build a bomb, this bomb has to be filled with enough enriched uranium and Iran has to go through three stages.  The first stage, they have to enrich enough low enriched uranium.  The second stage, they have to enrich enough medium enriched uranium.  And the third stage, the final stage, they have to enrich enough high enriched uranium for the first bomb.  Where's Iran?  Iran has completed the first stage.  It took them many years but they completed it and they are 70 percent of the way there.  Now, they are well into the second stage.  And by next spring, at most, by next summer at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium enrichment and move onto the final stage.  From there, it's only a few months, possibly a few weeks before they get enough enriched uranium for the first bomb."

He goes on to state that the information that he has provided is not secret and has not been gleaned from military intelligence, rather, they are taken from public reports provided by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

From the timeframe given by Israel's Prime Minister, Iran would have finished the medium enrichment program by mid-2013 and have developed a bomb by the end of 2013 at the latest.  This means that, according to Benjamin Netanyahu in 2012, Iran should have developed a fully functional nuclear weapon nearly one and a half years ago or within eighteen months of his speech to the United Nations.

Now, let's look at what Benjamin Netanyahu had to say about the deal signed with Iran by P5+1 in mid-July 2015:

At the 3 minute and 21 second mark, he makes this comment:

"By not dismantling Iran's nuclear program, in a decade, this deal will give an unreformed, unrepentant and far richer terrorist regime, the capacity to produce many nuclear bombs, in fact, an entire nuclear arsenal with the means to deliver it.  What a stunning, historic mistake."

So, Iran's nuclear program didn't meet Benjamin Netanyahu's late 2013 deadline so he readjusts and  proposesnew time line, a decade-long period for the development of Iran's first bomb.  Given that the recent agreement limits Iran's enrichment capacity and research and development for 15 years and that inspections and transparency measures will remain in place for as long as 25 years, it looks like Benjamin Netanyahu's concept of time as it relates to Iran's nuclear program is, once again, off base.

Interestingly enough, while it's barely worth the paper that it's written on, the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1968 recognizes only five states as possessors of nuclear weapons (nuclear weapons states or NWS); China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.  Three states, India Pakistan and Israel never joined the NPT and according to the Arms Control Association, it is believed that Israel possesses between 80 and 100 nuclear weapons with fissile material for up to 200 additional weapons.

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