Officials and analysts have been putting out “Iran X From Nuclear Weapon” stories where X is some amount of time for decades now, but as officials have tried to ratchet up the tension in recent months, X keeps getting smaller and smaller, and less and less credible.
Today, Benjamin Netanyahu got the figure down to three weeks, playing up the idea that Iran would retain “breakout capability” under the deal with the P5+1 and could whip up a bomb in a matter of weeks.
The claim is, of course, ridiculous, and the faulty calculation rests on the notion that Iran will retain a certain amount of civilian enrichment capability to produce 3.5 percent uranium, which fuels the Bushehr Power Plant. The idea, then, is that Iran’s ability to produce 3.5 percent uranium, on top of its existing stockpile of 3.5 percent uranium, would get them to enough fissile material for a single bomb.
Which ignores that one can’t build a nuclear weapon out of 3.5 percent uranium, and ignores Iran’s lack of warheads, and a lot of other things. Like all the other already missed predictions, Netanyahu’s is meant to scare people more than offer a sincere assessment.
But scaring people is getting harder and harder as Netanyahu’s shrill proclamations continue to miss the mark and Iran’s reformist government moves toward rapprochement with the world. Israel remains opposed to any deal, and is continuing to argue that civilian enrichment amounts to an existential “threat to the Jewish people,” an argument which seems aimed at excusing his ongoing plots to attack Iran in the event that diplomacy succeeds.
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