Roger L. Simon

Iran's "Breakout Capability"

The NYT’s just published report on Iran indicates the mullah’s are further along in their nuclear ambitions than many of his thought, not that we questioned the ambitions themselves. They appear to be on th edge of “breakout capability.”

The inspectors have tested the output and concluded that Iran is producing reactor-grade uranium, enriched to a little less than 5 percent purity. But that still worries American officials and experts here at the I.A.E.A. If Iran stores the uranium and later runs it through its centrifuges for another four or five months, it can raise the enrichment level to 90 percent – the level needed for a nuclear weapon.

In the arcane terminology of nuclear proliferation, that is known as a “breakout capability,” the ability to throw inspectors out of the country and then produce weapons-grade fuel, as North Korea did in 2003.

Okay, now what? Is it bombombbombbombiran, in the melodic cadence of John McCain and Brian Wilson? Or do we negotiate with those “honest brokers,” the mullahs? If you prefer the latter, I would suggest educating yourself on your adversaries. A good place to start is the Wikipedia citation for chief Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani. Then ask yourself what such a person’s goals might be in any discussion and to what degree he would be willing to lie to achieve them? Indeed, you might consider this.

Apropos, one of points the NYT makes to reassure us – although they do not do that as much as usual in this article; how could they? -is that, close though they may be to nuclear weapons, the Iranians may not yet have the technology to reduce them to the size necessary to fit in a missile warhead. Of course the folks at the newspaper don’t have to tell us that there are other means. And it should be obvious this is only a short run problem in the first place.