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November 29, 2015 / 17 Kislev, 5776
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Posts Tagged ‘centrifuges’

Iran Deal: US and Allies are the Junior Varsity (Little League?)

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

They can’t even coordinate their public descriptions of what the deal entails, that’s how bad it is.

The sort of, kind of nuclear agreement between the P5+1 and Iran makes concrete the previous understanding that U.S. President Barack Obama has been dead wrong about almost every major terrorist threat he has encountered: Al Qaeda is not, as he intoned, “decimated”; ISIS is not a “junior varsity” terrorist network; and Iran is not a partner with whom the west can successfully negotiate.

It looks like the U.S. is the captain of the junior varsity team. And Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu will not sugarcoat his assessment.

This “agreement” which is not a deal, is not even the framework of a deal, is, ultimately, an attempt by the Obama administration to rack up at least one foreign policy “achievement” during its tenure.

But that “achievement” confuses an end date to a series of discussions with the attainment of even the modest goals this administration claimed it would reach.

What follows are key details which have been released about the “agreement” reached between the U.S.-dominated allies known as the P5+1 (the junior varsity) and Iran, regarding the latter nation’s nuclear program.

A quick perusal makes clear the U.S. administration’s insistence that  diplomacy would safely ensure Iran would not become a threshold nuclear power was exactly what its critics claimed: a hollow gesture which rewarded Iran with its goal of more time to continue in pursuit of achieving that status. What’s more, the deal which the parties are currently hurtling towards will not only permit but will actually legitimize Iran in its achievement of that status.


Iran currently has 9,000 operational centrifuges (that is the generally accepted number). The U.S. claims that, under the terms of the new deal, about 3,000 fewer Iranian centrifuges will be operational during the next 10 years, while 5,060 centrifuges will continue enriching uranium during that period.

The U.S. also claims that Iran will not use “advanced” centrifuge models for 10 years, and any development will be in accordance with P5+1 oversight. The Iranians say nuts to that, and will continue doing research and development on advanced centrifuges during the duration of the 10 year period.

Fordow, the uranium enrichment plant built in an underground bunker, will be used for “peaceful purposes.” The U.S. claims that Iran will move two-thirds of its centrifuges out of this facility and will not enrich uranium there for at least 15 years.

In other words, even according to the U.S. version of the facts, and even were one to believe that Iran will strictly adhere to its obligations under this “pre-deal,” Iran gets to continue enriching uranium, thousands of centrifuges will continue spinning, and the underground bunker will have operational centrifuges during the term of the deal.


The U.S. claims that Iran’s acurrently enriched uranium will be reduced. That is already a three-step default by the allies. Initially, all enriched uranium was to be destroyed. As the result of negotiations the Iranians had allegedly agreed to instead move its already enriched uranium to Russia, where it was to be converted for non-military use.

Instead, the U.S. is reduced to bragging about a mere “reduction” in Iran’s already enriched uranium. And we don’t know what is meant by “reduction” or “neutralization” – another term used in the U.S. fact sheet.

According to a former CIA analyst, “If Iran’s enriched-uranium stockpile remains in the country,” and if it is only converted to powder form, which the Obama administration had previously – erroneously – claimed meant it would be neutralized, “Iran will retain the capability to make about eight or more nuclear weapons in about three months.”  Maybe little league rather than junior varsity players more accurately describes Secretary of State John Kerry and his negotiating team.

Netanyahu Warns Iran-Yemen-Nuclear Deal Axis ‘Dangerous to Humanity’ [video]

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned Sunday that the deal shaping up with Iran on its nuclear program is “even worse than feared” and that the “Iranian-Lausanne talks-Yemen axis is dangerous to humanity and must be stopped.”

He told the Cabinet:

Even as meetings [in Lausanne] proceed on this dangerous agreement, Iran’s proxies in Yemen are overrunning large sections of that country and are attempting to seize control of the strategic Bab-el-Mandeb straits which would affect the naval balance and the global oil supply.

After the Beirut-Damascus-Baghdad axis, Iran is carrying out a pincers movement in the south as well in order to take over and conquer the entire Middle East.

Talks are dragging on in Lausanne, and it is not clear if the P5+1 will strike an agreement. Reports of concessions include Secretary of State John Kerry’s willingness to allow Iran retain 6,000 centrifuges at is main nuclear site, where it can continue to enrich uranium.

Netanyahu has become Public Enemy Number 1 to the Obama administration for his defiant speech in Congress earlier this month, where he warned of a “bad deal” with Iran.

He is winning more backing, not only from Congress but also from The Washington Post and even the London Economist, which is far from friendly to Netanyahu.

The Post wrote in an editorial Friday:

Negotiators — including the supposedly hard-line French, who have taken the lead on the ‘military dimensions’ issue — have reportedly agreed to let Iran’s noncompliance slide. The IAEA’s unanswered questions will be rolled over and rebundled into the new agreement, with a new time line. That means that Iran will have some sanctions lifted before it complies with a commitment it first made eight years ago.

The question this raises was articulated months ago in congressional testimony by nuclear weapons expert David Albright: ‘If Iran is able to successfully evade addressing the IAEA’s concerns now, when biting sanctions are in place, why would it address them later when these sanctions are lifted? In its rush to complete a deal, the Obama administration appears eager to ignore the likely answer.

The Economist wrote on Saturday, “Mr. Obama was right to chastise Mr. Netanyahu over Palestine. But he should not ignore him altogether. This is a vital moment in the Middle East. Mr. Obama may this week embrace Israel’s greatest foe, Iran, by agreeing on the outline for a nuclear deal. As cynical as Mr. Netanyahu may be about Palestine, he deserves to be heard on the risk that a deal will turn Iran from a pariah into a legitimate and overbearing regional power.”

Reducing Iran’s Number of Centrifuges Makes a Bomb More Likely

Friday, February 27th, 2015

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.

Report: Iran Balks over Centrifuges

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

Iran is holding up progress for implementing the interim deal agreed to by world powers in November because of the issue of centrifuges that can be used to purify uranium to level that would make it suitable to make a nuclear weapon.

“This issue (centrifuges) was among the main factors in stopping the previous technical discussions on December 19-21,” a Western diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

That is exactly why there is a bi-partisan effort in Congress to pass a new bill that would place harsher sanctions on Iran if it reneges on the interim  agreement.

The sponsors of the bill, Democrats as well as Republicans, don’t trust Iran to have suddenly surrendered its nuclear program. President Barack Obama, who has put his weight behind “engaging” Iran diplomatically, has vowed to veto the bill if it is passed.

Iran said it has installed new and advanced centrifuges since the interim deal was reached, an issue that is to be discussed this week in meetings with the P5+1 countries.

“As part of the (November 24) agreement, Iran is permitted to engage in R&D (research and development), but that is tempered by the fact that it is prohibited to install new centrifuges, except as required by wear and tear,” one diplomats was quoted by Reuters as saying.

The interim deal is to be implemented on January 20 if Iran and the world powers can overcome disputes on the wording and meaning of the November agreement.

Reuters quoted an Israeli official as saying, “It was clear from the outset that the Iranians would play games. They did it in the past, and now they’re up to their old tricks again.”

‘Moderate’ Rouhani Misled West, Sneaked in Centrifuges?

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

There is a particularly interesting aspect to the video that has recently surfaced, in which Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, gloats over Iran’s success in coopting European negotiators to keep the Iranian nuclear program on track in the mid-2000s, in spite of pressure from the United States.

The video clip, from an Iranian news-program interview of Rouhani in Farsi, was published by Reza Khalili.  Ryan Mauro highlights it at the Clarion Project, tying it to a report from 31 July in which Mauro outlined Rouhani’s extensive history of using deception about the Iranian nuclear program back when he was the chief nuclear negotiator for Tehran.

The deception and Rouhani’s gloating are important (see especially his characterization of the top-cover he received from European negotiators); I will let readers visit the reports and soak in the information at your leisure.  What I want to focus on here is the timeline Rouhani refers to in the video.  If he is telling the truth – and there is no obvious reason why he would lie about the timing he refers to – the timeline he outlines for bringing Iranian centrifuge cascades online in substantial numbers makes a poignant contrast with the reporting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) at the time.

The contrast highlights just how in the dark IAEA was during this period, at least about the centrifuges.  (It’s also worth highlighting, in general, the timeline of what was going on during the EU-brokered negotiations Rouhani refers to in the video.)  Certainly, many in the West had an uneasy suspicion that, by the end of 2005, Iran may have accomplished more than IAEA was officially aware of.  But, as late as February 2006, IAEA acknowledged the following decisive condition:

Due to the fact that no centrifuge related raw materials and components are under Agency seal, the Agency is unable effectively to monitor the R&D activities being carried out by Iran except at the [Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant],* where containment and surveillance measures are being applied to the enrichment process.

Rouhani’s timeline

The full timeline from the video develops as follows.  Rouhani summarizes it between the time hacks of 3:45 and 4:30.  His overall allusion is to the period from October 2003 to August 2005, when he was the chief negotiator for the Iranian nuclear program.

His initial discussion of the nuclear power plant at Bushehr contains no surprises; it is couched in the following terms:

– First phase of Bushehr project completed – Beginning of 2004

– Next phase completed – Fall of 2004

These references are presumably to Russia’s completion of facility construction, which was noted at the time in Western reporting.

– Project completed – March 2005

This is probably a reference to an agreement between Russia and Iran, concluded in February 2005, under which Moscow would supply the enriched-uranium fuel for the light-water reactor at Bushehr.  (See here as well for a summary from 2006 alluding to the 2005 agreement.)


So far, so good.  Next, Rouhani speaks of the heavy-water reactor, or the plutonium reactor at Arak.

– “Production” started at the heavy-water plant – Summer of 2004

Construction of the reactor was begun in June of 2004, but Rouhani here appears to be referring to the heavy-water production plant (HWPP), a particular component of the Arak reactor system, which reportedly began operation (i.e., the production of heavy water) in November 2004.

In this walk back through the Iranian nuclear program, it is worth recalling what the official line was about Arak at the time, in the big middle of the EU-3 talks with Iran:

Iran has started building a research reactor that could eventually produce enough plutonium for one bomb per year, ignoring calls to scrap the project, diplomats close to the United Nations said on Thursday. …

IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said Iran had created a “confidence deficit” by concealing parts of its atomic program for nearly two decades and urged Tehran to improve its transparency and cooperation with U.N. inspectors. A concluding statement from this week’s IAEA governing board meeting said the 35 members unanimously said it was “essential that Iran provide full transparency and extend proactive cooperation to the agency.” …

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/j-e-dyer/moderate-rouhani-misled-west-sneaked-in-centrifuges/2013/08/11/

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