An agreement that limits the number of centrifuges Iran can possess makes them useless for nuclear energy but very useful for producing a nuclear weapon, according to a former CIA director who now is an analyst for CBS. Michael Morell said on Charlie Rose:
If you are going to have a nuclear weapons program, 5,000 is pretty much the number you need. If you have a power program, you need a lot more. By limiting them to a small number of centrifuges, we are limiting them to the number you need for a weapon.”
Iran has about 19,000 centrifuges, 10,000 of which are operating. The Obama administration’s proposal for a deal with Iran reportedly offered to let Iran enrich uranium with around 6,500 centrifuges. The Obama administration has countered the numbers, some of which are supplied by the Netanyahu administration, by arguing that the type and size of centrifuges are no less important than the number when it comes to enriching uranium.
President Barack Obama thinks that he can negotiate a deal that will keep Iran from making a nuclear weapon for two decades. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu says Iran simply is buying time, cannot be trusted to honor any agreement, and that any deal to which it agrees will be a “bad deal.”
Obama supposedly wants to cut the number of centrifuges to approximately 5,000, which Morrell said is enough to produce a nuclear weapon.
PunditFact verified Morell’s claim with several experts, including Georgetown Associate Prof. Matthew Kroenig, who has little faith that Iran will honor any agreement; Arms Control Association official Daryl Kimball; David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security; and Harvard Prof. Matthew Bunn. Bunn told PunditFact:
People think surely you must need a bigger enrichment system to make 90 percent enriched material for bombs than to make 4-5 percent enriched material for power reactors. But exactly the opposite is true. A nuclear reactor, which Iran claims it is building for peaceful purposes, requires tons of uranium. A nuclear bomb can be produced with only 50 pounds of highly enriched uranium.
Bunn explained that producing low-grade uranium makes it possible to produce the enriched stuff, even though it is harder.
That is why Netanyahu told the United Nations three years ago Iran must be allowed zero percent uranium. Once Iran has 5 percent grade uranium, “you’ve already done more than 2/3 of the work of going all the way to 90 percent U-235 for weapons,”
Bunn said. “So the amount of work needed to make bomb material is only a modest amount more per kilogram, and the number of kilograms you need for bombs is 1,000 times less.”
Kimball is more dovish than Kroenig and thinks that since it would take Iran a year to produce enough enriched uranium for one bomb, “That would give you enough time to detect that activity.”
That means the deal, if one is made, comes down to inspections, something which Iran has circumvented for years. Either it allows inspections after removing evidence that its nuclear development is aimed at building a nuclear weapon, or it simply allows them after it has moved its operations to another unknown facility.
The National Coalition of Resistance of Iran insists that the Iranian regime has systematically lied to United Nations nuclear inspectors and has built and is running a secret “Lavizan-3” underground enrichment operation near Tehran.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in a report last week that was obtained by Reuters and the Associated Press, stated that Iran is living up to its commitment to reduce enrichment activities but did not erase suspicions that it is carrying out research for making a nuclear bomb. The IAEA report said:
Iran has not provided any explanations that enable the agency to clarify the outstanding practical measures.
Obama apparently thinks Iran can be trusted, and that is why he is so incensed that Netanyahu is trying to convince Americans that the president is letting himself be conned – again.