05 August 2015

White House Spins the Iran Nuclear Deal

Obama's Administration provided a slick site with  several lines of arguments designed to justify the Iran deal.  The arguments are clearly presented, well formulated and intended for a non-expert reader.  They are also extremely misleading and full of holes.  A brief outline of the  claims is provided below:

1. White House identifies 4 paths to nuclear weapons.  That is correct, except for the claim that all of them are "blocked".

2. White House claims that without a deal, Iran can produce enough fissile material for a bomb within 2-3 months.  That's true.  It also claims that under the deal the breakdown time will increase to 1 year.  True, if there are no clandestine activities.

Now let's recall that it took us 3 years to discover the clandestine Fordow Fuel Enrichment plant.  That's an awful lot of fissile material that could be produced within another clandestine facility.

3. White House states that every step of weapons production from Mining to Spent Fuel management will be under continuous IAEA monitoring. Multiple problems with this claim:

- Iran already signed an agreement which ensures continuous monitoring by the IAEA.  It's called "Non-Proliferation Treaty.   Iran has not complied with the NPT.  Why make a new deal with someone who isn't following the original one?

- IAEA can only monitor what it knows about.  See item 2.

- IAEA will only monitor KNOWN facilities for a fixed period of time (10 to 25 years).  Any other country which signed the NPT has it's civilian facilities monitored by the IAEA indefinitely.  That includes the US of A.

- Only Uranium ore extraction and manufacturing of certain equipment will be monitored for over 15 years.  Monitoring of ore extraction will be rather useless because there are no constraints on how much ore Iran can extract.  After 15 years Iran will be able to enrich at a very high rate without any monitoring and in full compliance with the deal.  No other signatory to the NPT is allowed the same privileges.

4. White House claims that breakout time has been increased from 2-3 months to 1 year.  That is only true for the first 10 years of the deal, following which all restrictions on enrichment are lifted.  And even before they are lifted, the claim is only accurate if we were to assume there are no clandestine activities. That assumption in relation to Iran proved false on multiple occasions within the last 10 years.

5. White House claims that 24-day access rule is more than adequate to verify that Iran follows the deal because "it can take 6 months to several years to clean one of these facilities".  True for enrichment plants.  Utterly false for research on detonator systems, computer modelling of nuclear devices and neutron  initiation systems.  All of these are supposedly banned under the deal, but the ban is unverifiable because of the 24-day rule and because we are not permitted to interview Iranian specialists.

Let us remember that ALL Iranian enrichment activities have exclusively military purpose.  This is because Iran has no capability to manufacture reactor fuel for Russian-designed reactors and never will.  Furthermore, according to the deal, after 15 years Iran will be permitted to manufacture Plutonium (e.g. by operating a heavy water reactor and reprocessing).  Plutonium also has one practical use - military.

In summary, the deal legalizes development of nuclear weapons by Iran.  This is not allowed under the NPT, which Iran signed.  As such the new deal actually relaxes constraints on Iran's nuclear weapons programme.