Officials from both the US and Iran remain upbeat on the prospect of a negotiated settlement on Iran’s civilian nuclear program, and for the first time we are starting to get a glimpse of what the deal may look like.
Negotiators are said to be working on a deal that would see the severe limits on the civilian program that the US is demanding, and which are far beyond any legal basis, being tapered off over the next decade or two.
Eventually, this would give Iran the right to its peaceful civilian program, which as a signatory of the nuclear NPT it was supposed to have in the first place. This is already fueling panic about the “breakout” capability of Iran’s program, and the idea that 15 or 20 years from now Iran could be “12 months away from an atomic weapon.”
The timing of the revelations is ironic, as the whole “breakout” conceit is based on claims from Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu, and which even Israel’s own spy agency, Mossad, had debunked. That debunking, way back in 2012, was part of a series of leaks released today from the South African spy agency, SSA.
The basis of the claim is that Iran could hypothetically further enrich its uranium to weapons grade, and might be able to make enough to make a single weapon if it were attempting to do so. The same could be said of literally every nation with a civilian nuclear enrichment program.
Yet Iran has stopped creating the 20% enriched uranium for the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR), having made plenty of fuel for its remaining usable life, and is only attempting to enrich to the sub-5% level needed for the Bushehr power plant. Weapons grade is considered over 90%, which Mossad confirmed Iran has never even attempted to produce.
Enrichment to the low Bushehr levels is barely above the level of mined uranium, which is found naturally, and far from being usable in a weapon. The replacement for the TRR, interestingly, is intended to use mined, unenriched uranium, though Israel is condemning that planed facility as a trick as well.