Nuclear framework for Iran riddled with holes

Nuclear framework

Iran’s nuclear reactor in Arak (photo by Nanking2012)

PRAYER ALERT: On paper, the nuclear framework agreement between Iran and Western powers looks airtight. Can Iran be trusted to keep it that way? Currently, Iran has been enriching uranium up to 20%, which is enough for medical purposes. But that uranium could be concentrated to produce 90% enriched uranium, which is weapons-grade. Iran is now only 2-3 months away from gaining enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon.

Under the new nuclear framework, that “breakout timeline” will be extended from 2-3 three months to one year. Iran has agreed to remain one year away from nuclear weapons capability for the next 10 years.

Specifically, for the next 10 years Iran has agreed to reduce its installed centrifuges by more than two-thirds. For the next 15 years, those centrifuges will enrich uranium only up to 3.67%, which is enough for the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Iran will give up ninety-seven percent of its stockpile of uranium. The remaining three percent will be diluted to below 3.67% enriched. It will stay below 3.67% for 15 years.

On paper, the nuclear framework allows the International Atomic Energy Agency to regularly inspect all nuclear facilities in Iran. That includes uranium mines and mills, storage sites, enrichment facilities, power plants, and research & development. Only after the IAEA confirms that Iran has fulfilled its commitments, will the US and the EU end its sanctions on Iran.

But it’s all too easy to poke holes in this paper. The IAEA won’t be allowed to make intrusive, unannounced inspections. That will give Iran time to hide evidence of secret nuclear development. Iran has not cooperated with inspectors in the past. How can we be sure it will cooperate in the future? Already US and Iranian spokesmen are disagreeing over what they agreed on. In 1994 North Korea agreed to a similar nuclear framework. Eight years later it started ejecting IAEA inspectors. Today it is the fastest-proliferating nation on earth. North Korea’s missiles are now capable of targeting its neighbors. And Asia expert Gordon Chang says North Korea has been helping Iran for years in secret to develop nuclear weapons.

Iran has made no secret of calling for the destruction of Israel and the US for many years. Can we believe they will give up when they are only 2-3 months away from developing the nuclear weapons which can enable to do so?

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Nuclear framework may be hard to enforce.

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