Nuclear experts: Emerging deal expected to leave breakout time much less than administration claims


Iran’s breakout time under the emerging deal would be far less than the Obama administration’s estimate of one year, according to Alan J. Kuperman, associate professor and coordinator of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project at the University of Texas in Austin.  Writing in The New York Times, Kuperman argues that under the framework reached in Lausanne, the actual breakout time – the time needed to accrue enough enriched uranium for one nuclear weapon – would be approximately three months.  A former deputy director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Olli Heinonen, has similarly stated that under the emerging deal, Iran’s breakout time would be less than a year, arguing that the US may have underestimated the capacity of Iran’s IR-1 centrifuges. Additionally, since Iran is allowed to continue centrifuge R&D during the deal, which will allow it to develop more advanced centrifuges that can enrich uranium more efficiently, breakout times in later years would “shrink drastically.” The Obama administration has consistently argued that the deal will push back the breakout time from a current 2-3 months to one year.


Kuperman indicates that it’s problematic that Iran will be able to keep 14,000 excess centrifuges in the country rather than destroying or exporting them, as they could be deployed to build a nuclear weapon in the future. David Albright, a scientist and president of the Institute for Science and International Security, echoes this concern, arguing, “The centrifuges in excess of a limit should ideally be destroyed. Otherwise, Iran could re-install them, building back to its original enrichment capacity…This restoration of capacity would lead to very short breakout times, far less than a year.”


In a recent report, Albright wrote that more than half of Iran’s near 20% enrichment stockpile will be in the form of scrap which “Iran would be expected to seek to recover much of…for conversion into usable uranium oxide.” The stockpile is also in fuel form, from which enriched uranium could also be extracted “in significantly less than one year.” The reversibility of both of these forms could significantly reduce the duration of breakout time.


Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog said that there is “no daylight” between his position on the emerging nuclear deal with Iran and the position of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an interview with The Telegraph published today.

If the US Administration hoped that Mr Herzog might dilute Israel’s visceral suspicion of an imminent nuclear deal with Iran, however, then he seems likely to disappoint. …“There is no difference between me and Netanyahu in reading the threat of Iran. There is no daylight between us on this issue at all,” said Mr Herzog. “I do not oppose the diplomatic process. However, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. We want to know ‘what is the deal?’ What’s the best deal possible that can be reached and would it change the region in a better direction? And here we are worried.” …

“There are some issues that must be improved substantially and we are waiting to see. I’m actually worried that they won’t be fully met,” he said. “One is inspections: it has to be clear that the inspection chapter includes the ability to have thorough, immediate inspections of all installations, 24/7. There are rumours of some vagueness. I’m extremely worried. I think that’s the main tool to enable the agreement.”

In a speech to the Jewish Agency’s board of governors on Monday, Netanyahu pointed out that the deal would not only provide Iran with a path to a nuclear bomb, but would also strengthen Iran’s ability to destabilize the Middle East.

During the election campaign earlier this year, Herzog wrote in an op-ed in The New York Times warning of the dangers of a nuclear Iran:

[A] nuclear Iran would endanger not only Israel. If it goes nuclear, the Middle East will go nuclear, putting world peace itself in jeopardy. This is why the Iranian nuclear challenge must not be seen as Mr. Netanyahu’s obsession, or anyone’s partisan issue, but as a central issue for the whole international community to address.

In April, Herzog and former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni released a statement calling the nuclear understandings “problematic,” and asked the United States to “legitimize any action Israel will be forced to take in order to preserve its security in the situation that is created.” (via

Owner of the reigning Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, along with 19 NFL Hall of Famers, is in Israel for a special tour of the country’s tech scene, landmarks and local football action. The goodwill week-long trip to Israel, called, “Touchdown in Israel: Mission of Excellence,” was organized by Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, in coordination with Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer. “I don’t think there’s a better place that you can bring people no matter what their faith might be. They come here and their lives are changed,” Kraft said. The gridiron greats got an up-close look at 10 Israeli startups at a technology expo in Jerusalem’s Old City. “Jerusalem was recently voted by Time Magazine as one of the world’s five emerging tech hubs and that can truly be seen today,” said Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. “I think it’s a combination of really understanding our past and the beauty and the power of Jerusalem and its history. I believe in a very strong connection between our past and our future. More and more high tech entrepreneurs see their future here.” The NFL legends saw a demo of ReWalk, a wearable exoskeleton that allows individuals with spinal cord injuries to walk again. They also got an introduction to Elminda, the world’s first FDA-approved neural functional assessment tool to visualize serious brain trauma and illness. “Elminda is a perfect example of the kind of breakthrough technology coming out of Israel which is close to the hearts of these football greats. It offers a potentially huge breakthrough for mitigating sports injuries, detecting sports based concussions, advancing brain research and changing the lives of the two billion people worldwide living with brain disorders,” said OurCrowd CEO Jon Medved. (via Israel21c)

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