One Month?

Is Iran really just one month from producing a nuclear weapon?

Is Iran really just one month from producing a nuclear weapon?

Iran could produce enough weapons-grade uranium to build a nuclear bomb in as little as a month, according to a new estimate by one of the USA’s top nuclear experts.

The new assessment comes as the White House invited Senate staffers to a briefing on negotiations with Iran as it is trying to persuade Congress not to go ahead with a bill to stiffen sanctions against Iran.

“Shortening breakout times have implications for any negotiation with Iran,” stated the report by the Institute for Science and International Security. “An essential finding is that they are currently too short and shortening further.”

David Albright, president of the institute and a former inspector for the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency, said the estimate means that Iran would have to eliminate more than half of its 19,000 centrifuges to extend the time it would take to build a bomb to six months.

Whether they’re a month away or a year away (as maintained by the Obama Administration) and whether they will actually produce a nuclear weapon or just want the ability to produce one quickly, it’s still concerning.

Have a nice day.

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Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.

Comments

  1. I call BS. It’s that simple.

  2. PJ says:

    Whether they’re a month away or a year away (as maintained by the Obama Administration) and whether they will actually produce a nuclear weapon or just want the ability to produce one quickly, it’s still concerning.

    In September last year, Iran was one year away from a nuclear bomb.

    Back in 2011, Iran would test its first nuclear bomb in 2012.

    And then Google gave me this:

    For Conservative Media, Iran Is Always A Year Away From Having Nukes

    If Iran always is one year away from producing a nuke, then what’s the problem?

  3. gVOR08 says:

    This would be a lot scarier if it we hadn’t been seeing the same predictions for what, the last ten years?

  4. Pinky says:

    @Christopher Bowen: More like simplistic. What are you calling BS on? and on what basis? Do you think Iran has more or fewer centrifuges? Or are you thinking about their shipping safety protocols?

  5. C. Clavin says:

    The real trouble maker in the region is Israel.
    How many nukes do they have now?

  6. MM2 says:

    Since the end if the Clinton admin, Iran has been 6-12 months out from getting nukes. Now, no doubt at some point this will actually be true, however due to multiple years of this being patently untrue, I have no reason to believe it to be true right now. Nor, I submit is it in the US beat interest to take the measures needed to stop this from occurring, which essentially would be a declaration of war against Iran to destroy all enrichment facilities or secret broad assassinations of Iranian scientists.

  7. Todd says:

    This has parallels to how I feel about the debt ceiling. I’m much more scared of the people who want to “fix” the debt “problem” than I am of the debt itself.

    Same thing with Iran.

    The countries/people who want to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon scare me infinitely more than the thought of Iran with a nuclear weapons capability.

  8. C. Clavin says:

    @ Todd…
    Agreed…with an addition:
    “…The countries/people who have nuclear weapons yet want to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon scare me infinitely more than the thought of Iran with a nuclear weapons capability….”

  9. Gustopher says:

    I’m a lot less worried about Iran’s nuclear weapons than Pakistan’s.

    I’d rather Iran not have nuclear weapons, but if I were the Iranian leadership, I’d look at the rest of the “Axis Of Evil” and conclude that the reason Iraq was invaded but North Korea wasn’t is simply that North Korea had a credible deterrent. If we want Iran to give up their nuclear ambitions, we need to come to some sort of diplomatic settlement where Iran feels safe.

  10. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Gustopher: Ditto. It is very easy to see how the pursuit of nuclear power is a logical exercise for Iran to undertake in order to develop their infrastructure and defend their borders, without delving into “mad mullah” style caricature.

  11. I do enjoy OTB’s “Related Posts” widget:
    “Iran 6 Months Away from Nuclear Weapons?” – James Joyner, June 24, 2008.
    “Enough For One Bomb” – Dave Schuler, November 20, 2008

  12. gVOR08 says:

    @Todd: J. K. Galbraith used to have a line about inflation being a serious problem. Not because inflation itself was really a problem, but because eventually someone would do something stupid to stop it.

  13. Pinky says:

    We did massively sabotage their computer systems a while back, and who knows how else we’ve been buying time, so the earlier one-year projection may have been accurate.

  14. PJ says:

    @Pinky:

    We did massively sabotage their computer systems a while back, and who knows how else we’ve been buying time, so the earlier one-year projection may have been accurate.

    Which one?
    The one in 2005?
    The one in 2006?
    The one in 2007?
    The one in 2008?
    The one in 2009?
    The one in 2010?
    The one in 2011?
    The one in 2012?
    The one in 2013?

  15. Andy says:

    @MM2:

    Since the end if the Clinton admin, Iran has been 6-12 months out from getting nukes. Now, no doubt at some point this will actually be true, however due to multiple years of this being patently untrue, I have no reason to believe it to be true right now.

    I think this and similar comments misunderstand these analyses.

    There is a difference between intentions and technical capabilties. The analyses that say Iran is X amount of time from a bomb refer to technical capabilities only. If Iran doesn’t act on those capabilities that doesn’t make the analysis “untrue.” Similarly, my wife is “9 months out” from having a baby. She is always 9 months out from having a baby yet she hasn’t birthed a child in three years. Should we therefore say that it’s “untrue” that she’s 9 months out from a baby?

    These analyses use what’s known about Iran’s capabilities to estimate how long it would take to produce a weapon if Iran went all-out on the effort. They aren’t realistic scenarios for a wide variety of reasons, but they are useful as a bookend to bracket what is technically possible in the “worst case.”

  16. Scott says:

    Iran could produce enough weapons-grade uranium to build a nuclear bomb in as little as a month

    I’m having trouble figuring out what this says:

    Does it say that Iran can produce a specific amount of uranium in a month that could be used in producing a bomb?

    Or does it say that Iran is one month away from having enough uranium to produce a bomb?

    Or does it say that Iran can produce a bomb in a month?

    All different things. Saying Iran may produce enough uranium for a bomb is not the same as producing a bomb.

  17. Grewgills says:

    @Andy:

    There is a difference between intentions and technical capabilties. The analyses that say Iran is X amount of time from a bomb refer to technical capabilities only. If Iran doesn’t act on those capabilities that doesn’t make the analysis “untrue.” Similarly, my wife is “9 months out” from having a baby. She is always 9 months out from having a baby yet she hasn’t birthed a child in three years. Should we therefore say that it’s “untrue” that she’s 9 months out from a baby?

    Your wife is not 9 months out from having a baby at all times. While she is fertile and trying to have a baby she is as little as 9 months out. If you try for 10 years and constantly tell everyone you are 9 months away from a baby, people will stop paying attention to your pronouncements.

  18. C. Clavin says:

    Oh look…I made a factual statement about Israel’s behavior and I’m getting downvoted for it.

    https://www.outsidethebeltway.com/one-month/#comment-1822196

  19. MM2 says:

    @Andy: Ok but to use your analogy, if you walk around saying “my wife is 9 months from having a baby”, people are not going to sit back and admire your technically correct wit, they are going to congratulate you and coo and do all of the things that we do when we hear “my wife is pregnant”.

    Similarly, the endless invocation that Iran is X period of time away from getting a nuclear bomb is always treated as Iran will have a bomb then, not “it’s technically feasible given specific scenarios”. Technically, Iran could have a bomb this weekend, if someone sells them one.

  20. C. Clavin says:

    Technically, Iran could have a bomb this weekend, if someone sells them one.

    Craigslist? E-bay?

  21. grumpy realist says:

    I’d like to see the links of connection between the individual who generated that “one month” prediction and Israel….OR Saudi Arabia.

    Both of whom would be royally irked if Iran would get a bomb.

    If I were president, I would in fact SELL the Iranians a nuke and tell Israel and SA to go suck rocks. I’m tired of getting yanked around for the sake of their foreign policy.

  22. humanoid.panda says:

    Unfortunately, it’s in Hebrew, but there is an Israeli blogger that keeps a list of predictions of when Iran would have nuclear weapons, according to US and/or Israeli media sources. The first time when Iran was months away from nuclear weapon capacity was in 1996.

  23. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Andy:

    She is always 9 months out from having a baby yet she hasn’t birthed a child in three years. Should we therefore say that it’s “untrue” that she’s 9 months out from a baby?

    This is only true if she is actually pregnant.

  24. Andy says:

    @Grewgills:

    While she is fertile and trying to have a baby she is as little as 9 months out.

    Yes, that was my point. Similarly, ISIS’s analysis suggests that Iran is as little as one month away. Are there a lot of assumptions and caveats to that? Of course there are.

    @MM2:

    Ok but to use your analogy, if you walk around saying “my wife is 9 months from having a baby”,

    As I said before, there is a distinction between capability and intent. In other words, there is the ability for my wife to have a child and there is the intent to have a child. If I say, as you put it, that “my wife is nine months from having a baby,” then the intent portion of the equation is clearly in that statement.

    Perhaps this is a better analogy – Let’s say I have a Ferrari that can cruise at 160 MPH with ease. This car gives me the capability to reach a destination twice as fast as I could with a regular car. Does that mean that I intend to speed wherever I go or that I intend to drive to LA in two hours instead of the normal four? No.

    As far as I’m aware (and I haven’t read the actual report yet), the analysis does not claim Iran intends to build a nuke, much less within a month – it claims that Iran has the technical capability to build a nuke in a month.

    Similarly, the endless invocation that Iran is X period of time away from getting a nuclear bomb is always treated as Iran will have a bomb then, not “it’s technically feasible given specific scenarios”. Technically, Iran could have a bomb this weekend, if someone sells them one.

    Yes and it’s unfortunate that these technical analyses are spun by the media and others for their own reasons. That’s why I think it’s important to point out what the analysis actually says with respect to intent (ie. nothing) instead of playing into that spin game through attempts to discredit the analysis as “wrong.”

  25. grumpy realist says:

    @Andy: Yes, however you know that the hawks on both sides will use this as an excuse to go screaming about how we should “Bomb, bomb,bomb” Iran.

    Heck, given what the more lunatic of our politicians and chattering class have been saying for the last several years, if I were Iran I’d be trying to get a nuke sub rosa toute suite.

  26. Abdul says:

    I think I’m up to four posts over three years at this blog. I could be wrong but there are 9 nuclear powers. Only one has ever used any. That was the first before any other countries got one. Without a nuke a country needs allies close by. With one who cares. Pakistan, India, China, they control politics, they are not subject to it. Iran will not be a threat. Imareallybigdinnerplate will be voted out soon after acquisition. Iran is not as much a tyranny as even liberals want it to be. Real politics is so much simpler than media politics.

  27. Ron Beasley says:

    @C. Clavin: I gave you an up vote. Considering that Israel has perhaps as many as 200 nuclear warheads is it really all that surprising that Iran might want a couple?

  28. Ron Beasley says:

    @grumpy realist:

    If I were president, I would in fact SELL the Iranians a nuke and tell Israel and SA to go suck rocks. I’m tired of getting yanked around for the sake of their foreign policy.

    Amen!!!!

  29. Kari Q says:

    If Iran wasn’t actively pursuing a nuclear weapons program, that would be proof of irrational behavior.

  30. Gromitt Gunn says:

    Yes, that was my point. Similarly, ISIS’s analysis suggests that Iran is as little as one month away. Are there a lot of assumptions and caveats to that? Of course there are.

    Okay, seriously, who trust ISIS to do anything these days? The only decent agent they have is Lana, and she’s too busy trying to clean up after Archer to get any actual work done.

  31. Ron Beasley says:

    @Ron Beasley: Israel and Saudi Arabia would seem to be unlikely allies but they are jointly trying to be the tail that wags the dog. To hell with them I say!