Iran and the Bomb

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When I read this headline in the New York Times — “U.S. Assures Israel That Iran Threat Is Not Imminent” — I was relieved. Then I read the story itself:

The Obama administration, citing evidence of continued troubles inside Iran’s nuclear program, has persuaded Israel that it would take roughly a year — and perhaps longer — for Iran to complete what one senior official called a “dash” for a nuclear weapon, according to American officials.

….The current draft of the intelligence report also describes considerable division in Iran about whether the goal of the nuclear program should be to walk right up to the threshold of building an actual bomb — which would mean having highly enriched uranium on hand, along with a workable weapons design — or simply to keep enough low-enriched uranium on hand to preserve Tehran’s options for building a weapon later.

Two things. First, a year isn’t really a very long time. Second, the tone of this article suggests that the Obama administration takes for granted that Iran is, in fact, working on building a bomb. They might or might not do it, but that would be strictly a tactical decision, not an operational one. This doesn’t surprise me, but a lot of people still seem to be skeptical about Iran’s intentions, and this story suggests that this skepticism isn’t shared by anyone in the Obama administration.

In any case, the point of the piece is that inspectors “would detect an Iranian move toward breakout within weeks,” which leaves plenty of time to react. That doesn’t actually sound like much time to me, though, and if this is an effort to get critics to calm down it seems unlikely to work. The Bill Kristol brigade is going to milk this for everything it’s worth.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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