Obama Acknowledges that by Year 13 of the Pending Agreement with Iran, Iran will be Just One Screwdriver Turn Away from a Nuclear Bomb

In Obama’s interview with NPR yesterday, he affirmed that under the terms of the pending deal with Iran, Iran will be permitted to engage in nuclear fuel cycle r&d to such an extent that by the time the deal expires (in 10 – 15 years) Iran will be a threshold nuclear weapons state with a “breakout time” of zero.

Zero? Yes zero. Not two or three months, as is estimated to be Iran’s breakout time right now, nor the one year breakout time which is the goal of the current negotiations, but zero, which is to say that the Iranians could become a nuclear weapons state so quickly that the world will have no time to preempt such a move. Moreover, as Obama also acknowledged, the research and development that the Iranians are permitted to engage in under the terms of the pending deal are such that even before the deal is scheduled to expire, that is, in the final years of the deal — years 13, 14 and 15, to quote Obama — the Iranians will be poised, if so inclined, to renounce the deal and become a nuclear weapons state overnight.

Of course, it may well be that the Iranian regime will have changed into a far more benign state by then, and it may be that the pending deal will help to spur this transformation. But consider what the situation will be 10 – 15 years from now if this transformation has not come about. Then, an economically strengthened, oil rich Iran, still seeking to achieve hegemony over the Mid-East, and still spewing anti-Semitic hate and predicting the eventual annihilation of Israel (a country so small that it could be destroyed with just one nuclear bomb in the words of former Iranian president Rafsanjani) will be so much the stronger for being just one turn of the screwdriver away from becoming a nuclear weapons state.

In Obama’s own words:

“…in year 13, 14, 15, they [will] have advanced centrifuges that enrich uranium fairly rapidly, and at that point the breakout times would have shrunk almost down to zero.”

For a complete transcript of President Obama’s interview with NPR, go to:

About the Author
Trained as a political theorist at Columbia University and in Religious Studies at Harvard, Michael Gottsegen (Ph.D., 1989) has worked in and out of academia since the early 1990s, having taught at Columbia and Brandeis before coming to Brown. A book based on his thesis, "The Political Thought of Hannah Arendt," was published in 1994.