Olli Heinonen, the former Deputy Director-General for Safeguards at the IAEA, is convinced that Iran’s breakout time to a nuclear weapon under the current deal being negotiated by the P5+1 powers “will be clearly below” the one year goal.
One of the administration’s main selling points on the deal has been that it would provide a one-year warning period between the time Iran decided to violate the deal and the time it would have assembled a fully functioning nuclear warhead.
Yet, Heinonen is unconvinced that the deal can actually deliver on this promise. He told reporters in a conference call hosted by The Israel Project that, “[W]hen I look from the parameters which I know, it looks to me that if there are 6,500 centrifuges remaining,” as the current deal proposes, “installed and in operation – it might be difficult to get it to one year or longer, the breakout time. It will be clearly below. And then we have to add all the uncertainties, the unknowns.”
He also said that the administration’s concessions on Iranian disclosure, which were recently revealed in a Wall Street Journal article, would cause future monitoring regimes to fail. He said, “you are more or less fencing one hand behind your back and it might be difficult to find the proper places and detect them early enough.” He added that without finding all of the sites where Iran is developing its nuclear program and subjecting them to monitoring, the monitoring scheme will be unsuccessful in the long term.
Heinonen also mentioned that the IAEA “has not been able yet to verify the completeness of Iran’s declarations. So we don’t know at this point of time whether all the uranium which is in Iran is really subject to IAEA verification.” Heinonin says that the same applies to Iran’s enrichment program, since Iran has built a lot of centrifuges that are installed and operating.
Heinonen was not alone in voicing such fears on the deal. Earlier today, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted that the time Iran will need to break out to a nuclear weapon under the deal currently being tabled in Lausanne, “will be reduced to less than a year, and some even say – much less than a year.”
The Prime Minister also noted the deal’s shortcomings by excluding Iran’s missile development from its ambit, research on more sophisticated centrifuges, and the Islamic Republic’s “campaign of conquest and terror,” carried out, “in full view…from the Golan to Yemen, from Iraq to Gaza and in so many other places.”