- President Obama: Breakout time could shrink “almost down to zero” 13-15 years after deal implementation
In an interview with NPR on Monday, President Obama said that a legitimate fear about a deal with Iran over its nuclear program “would be that in year 13, 14, 15, they [Iran] have advanced centrifuges that enrich uranium fairly rapidly, and at that point the breakout times would have shrunk almost down to zero.” Additionally, in a factsheet that appears to contradict a document put out by the White House, the French government said that more advanced centrifuges, the IR-2 and IR-4 models, would be permitted to operate after 12 years, and Iran will be allowed to continue R&D on the advanced IR-4, IR-5, IR-6, and IR-8 models. The IR-8 can enrich uranium twenty times faster than the first-generation IR-1 model currently in operation.
The former deputy-director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), nuclear scientist Olli Heinonen, criticized many of the aspects of the P5+1’s understanding with Iran in an interview with The Times of Israel on Monday. He said that the deal envisaged by the understanding would make Iran a “threshold breakout nuclear state for the next 10 years.” He emphasized the importance of Iran’s disclosure of its past nuclear activities to serve as a baseline for a proper verification regime: “I think that the whole exercise should begin with a full complete declaration from Iran about its nuclear program.”
Heinonen is also skeptical about how Iranian non-compliance would be detected and dealt with. “What is the level of tolerance, and who decides how much constitutes non-compliance?” In an article last month in The Washington Post, Heinonen, along with Michael Hayden, the former Director of both the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, and Ray Takeyh, a former advisor on Iranian affairs in Obama’s State Department, warned of the bureaucratic processes that detection and reaction would have to undergo. The three policy analysts agreed that, given these processes, a one year breakout time, the Obama administration’s goal in any deal, is not sufficient. Furthermore, Heinonen noted, even in the event that there is a comprehensive agreement, a secondary arrangement would have to be made between Iran and the IAEA to determine the specific protocol that would govern future IAEA inspections in the country.
Heinonen also expressed concern about Iran’s potential to outsource its nuclear material to an outside party, such as North Korea. “We will be monitoring the uranium mines, but they can always get yellowcake from somewhere else,” he said.
Iran’s foreign minister and chief nuclear negotiator Mohammad Javad Zarif told a closed parliamentary hearing that Iran would not allow cameras into any of its nuclear sites, the official Iranian news agency, IRNA, reported today.
Zarif told the parliament that Tehran is not going to permit online cameras for inspection purposes, said the lawmaker.
Imenabadi made the remarks while talking to IRNA Tuesday morning after the end of the in-camera session in which Zarif briefed the parliament members on the process of nuclear talks which led to Swiss Statement last week. President Barack Obama has said that the emerging nuclear deal would allow international inspectors “unprecedented access … to Iranian nuclear facilities.” The understandings reached in last week’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (.pdf) included “continuous surveillance” of Iran’s known centrifuge manufacturing and storage facilities, as well as its uranium mills.