The Nuclear Deal Is Iran’s Legal Path to the Bomb Iran sees it. It’s time the U.S. did too.
President Donald Trump has sensibly insisted that the Iran nuclear deal—formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—has to be revised. The reaction in some quarters, mainly among many of the former Obama administration officials who negotiated this bad deal, has been horror. Unfortunately, the media have uncritically swallowed many of the false assumptions and naive arguments of the deal’s supporters, and the elite consensus is that the agreement must be preserved lest the White House bumble us into a crisis—or worse, another war in the Middle East.
Please. The accord is riddled with problematic provisions that essentially put Iran on a legal glide path to the bomb. The agreement’s various sunset clauses, its leaky inspection regime and Iran’s growing missile arsenal have all been subject of much discussion. Yet, one of the most dangerous aspects of the JCPOA that allows Iran to design and construct advanced centrifuges has largely escaped notice. Given the JCPOA’s permissive research and design provisions, Iran can effectively modernize its nuclear infrastructure while adhering to the agreement.
The Islamic Republic will most likely not build a bomb in one of its declared facilities, for such a move would expose it to immediate military retribution. More likely, Iran will sneak out by covertly enriching uranium at a hidden, undisclosed facility—after all, they’ve done it before. This option, however, requires the development of advanced centrifuges that can operate with efficiency at high velocity. A small cascade of the so-called IR-8 centrifuges can quickly enrich vast quantities of uranium to weapons-grade quality. Because so few of these centrifuges would be required to complete the task, they can be housed in small facilities that may evade detection in a timely manner. Iran is a vast country, and should the clerical oligarchs choose to litter their territory with numerous such small installations, they can effectively conceal their activities from prying inspectors. All this becomes even more alarming as the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program fade with time...