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Overlaid on each graph are the measures taken during the timeframe reflected, to deter or thwart the Iranian nuclear program: UN sanctions, US and EU application of sanctions (i.e., periodic tightening of measures), and special programs like the introduction of the Stuxnet worm in Iran’s centrifuge-array controllers.


It should be obvious that the net effect of these measures over time has been, to say the least, unimpressive.  In the larger context of all that has happened in the last decade, and what we have known throughout that period, the claim that they have had a meaningful effect on Iran’s nuclear program would be irresponsible.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration has been lobbying Congress to hold off on another round of sanctions against Iran, eyeing the next round of talks between Iran and the “P5+1” group of UN Permanent Security Council members, plus Germany.  Those talks are to take place in November, and presumably will continue the pattern of Iranian stalling to buy time.

Reportedly, P5+1 diplomats who met with Iran’s foreign minister in Geneva in mid-October were sympathetic with the bout of back pain from which he was suffering.  Weirdly – or perhaps not – Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif traced his attack of back pain to the Iranian press “misquoting” him on the topics of the Obama-Rouhani phone call in September, and the length of his own meeting with U.S. counterpart John Kerry.  Reportedly, an Iranian media outlet “misquoted” Zarif to the effect that that meeting went too long.  Apparently, he’s subject to psychosomatic manifestations.

Or maybe Zarif is faking an injury at the end of an unsuccessful third down, when his team needs time in the fourth quarter and has no official time-outs left to call.  That (admittedly facetious) interpretation would be in character with the Iranians’ modus operandi in the talks.  But the truth is that if it’s the fourth quarter, it’s not Iran that’s on the short end of the score.  Iran is holding onto a narrow lead in this game, hoping to keep us out of the end zone and pull off one of the biggest upsets in history.



  1. All of these graphs and conclusions are speculative. They are based on the assumption, that until now and in the immediate future, all of Iran's centrifuges will be used to concentrate U235 to only the 19.75% level. And only when they have a large enough trove of 19.75% U235, will they then use the centrifuges to concentrate the U235 to the 90+% level need for an N-bomb. I don't think that the Iranians are foolish and incompetent. It seems more likely to me that the Iranians would already have taken some of their 19.75% U235 and concentrated it further to the 90+% for a few N-bombs, or missile warheads. Having these bombs and/or warheads will greatly deter any country from attacking Iran.

  2. Actually, Arty Cohn, the graphs are the precise opposite of speculative. They are based on what the IAEA knows: no more and no less. But I think I take your point about what the graphs DON'T show, which is that Iran could have enriched uranium to HEU purity already, without our having knowledge of it. Iran could have more enriched uranium than these graphs indicate. Both of those propositions are valid. I've written on that topic before. Considering that IAEA's knowledge of Iran's centrifuge operations was more than 2 years out of date in the 2005-7 timeframe, we should not assume that what's in the graphs reflects reality. It reflects only the reality we're aware of; the reality we're not aware of could be much worse.

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