Iranian Nuclear Weapons Capability

It never was seriously hindered by the JCPOA, and the US withdrew from it over that failure. Now the Biden-Harris administration is back-handedly acknowledging that, even as it continues to beg Iran to agree to another ineffective agreement.

Administration officials concluded late last year that Iran’s nuclear program had advanced too far to re-create the roughly 12-month so-called breakout period of the 2015 pact[.]

Ineffective agreement:

Under a restored deal…[t]he constraints on Iran’s nuclear research and development would gradually relax from 2024. Iran’s new breakout time could then fall rapidly after 2026 when the deal allows Tehran to deploy some advanced centrifuges.

In other words, the new agreement that Biden-Harris is so desperate to get still would permit Iran to develop nuclear weapons, just over a (maybe) longer time frame.

That time frame, though, is itself misleading, even were it to last as long as Biden-Harris hopes. One metric for this, and one that Biden-Harris seems to be hanging his hat on, is the breakout time, the time required to go from the end of any agreement to the production of enough weapons grade uranium to produce a single bomb.

The breakout time is different from how long it would take Iran to attain a nuclear weapon because, according to Western officials, Iran is believed not to have mastered all the skills to build the core of a bomb and attach a warhead to a missile.

There are two things about this question of breakout time and an agreement’s claimed delay in an Iranian nuclear weapons program. One is that the added time, to the extent there actually is any, is plainly usable by Iran to develop and execute the needed skills to build and attach a bomb to a missile. That’s in addition to the lack, in the JCPOA, of any constraints on an Iranian missile development program.

The other is that business of attaching a nuclear bomb to a missile. There are lots of ways to deliver a nuclear warhead to its target besides missiles, or aircraft. One of those other ways is by land. One of the reasons (albeit far from an exclusive one) for Iran’s zeal in keeping a land bridge from Iran into Syria open and operational is for land delivery of weapons to its Syrian terrorist surrogates. Such a land bridge easily could accommodate nuclear bomb delivery either for Iran’s Syrian terrorists to deliver over the last mile into Israel or for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to deliver directly.

And there’s the dishonesty of Iran’s blandishments that their nuclear program is strictly for peaceful purposes. A peaceful nuclear program, for developing and building out nuclear reactors for electricity generation, for instance, needs only the 3.67% uranium purity that always has been allowed. Yet Iran already has 2.5 tons of 20% and greater purity uranium. That level of purity in uranium has no intrinsic use—it’s too rich, for instance, to be usable in a reactor. 20% purity has utility only as an intermediate step on the path to weapons-grade purity.

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