Heading Off an Even Bigger Problem in Iran

July 17, 2015
Jeffrey Lewis

This following is an excerpt from an op/ed published by the Boston Globe.

Heading Off an Even Bigger Problem in Iran

Cascade of gas centrifuges used to enrich uranium. Photo courtesy of the NRC and Flickr.

[…] Ten years ago, I argued that the US should be willing to let Iran keep all its centrifuges, provided it did not feed them with uranium. I was accused of giving away the store. Iran had a grand total of 164 centrifuges at the time, in case you were wondering.

Since that time, Iran has installed nearly 20,000 centrifuges at two sites, including one under a mountain, and is developing much more advanced models. The Bush administration had more than six years to end Iran’s nuclear program; the Obama administration has had more than seven. All that has happened until now is that Iran has continued to build more and more centrifuges.

The deal struck in Vienna limits Iran to 5,060 centrifuges enriching uranium at only one location. It also limits the levels to which Iran can enrich uranium, the amount of enriched uranium Iran can stockpile, the development of more advanced centrifuges, and many other nuclear activities. In all, the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action runs more than 150 pages.

The purpose of these restrictions is to create a verifiable gap between Iran’s ability to build a nuclear weapon and their actually having such a weapon. If Iran were to attempt to build a nuclear weapon — either by using facilities we know about or constructing some in secret — the agreement is designed to make sure that Iran would be detected in time for the West to reimpose sanctions and, if necessary, use force to stop the process. […]

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Heading Off an Even Bigger Problem in Iran

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