Iran’s strategy may enable it to make an end-run around diplomatic and military actions which could stop it from developing nuclear weapons, two experts said on Sunday.
Three years after the Iran nuclear deal’s “Implementation Day,” former Israel Atomic Energy Official and current INSS expert as well as INSS Arms Control Director Emily Landau warned in a report that Tehran so far has been successful in sidestepping all attempts to fully halt its nuclear program.
While the two complimented the Trump administration for changing the tone on Iran, pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal and slapping US sanctions back on it, they expressed concern that the Islamic Republic still has the advantage.
“Empowered by ongoing efforts in the missile realm and diplomatic maneuvering to ensure that Trump is regarded as the outsider in his approach to Iran, Iran might yet prove successful in surviving the pressure campaign against it waged by the administration,” wrote the experts.
They said that, “If the present trends of ignoring Iran’s past activities in the nuclear realm persist, including the IAEA’s current unwillingness or inability to ascertain past and present nuclear activities, there will be severe repercussions.”
“At that point, it could be too late for any diplomatic or military actions to stop Iran from ultimately developing nuclear weapons and restoring a measure of stability to the Middle East,” they cautioned.
Questioned about why the window for a military strike could be thinner in the future then it is now, Landau told the Jerusalem Post that down-the-road, “breakout times for a weapon could really be shortened considerably.”
More specifically, she pointed out Iran’s continued experimentation with advanced centrifuges, which is even permitted under the deal.
She recalled that a substantial amount of time after the deal was already operating, it emerged that the International Atomic Energy Agency had made secret guarantees to the Islamic Republic that it could start significantly expanding its use of advanced centrifuges 11 years after the deal was inked.
Some say that a sufficient number of advanced centrifuges could drop Iran’s breakout time to a nuclear weapon from a year to a few months to even weeks.
Her biggest concern if Tehran’s time for developing a nuclear weapon got shortened would be that it could cross the nuclear finish line “clandestinely, especially if the world continues, other than the US administration with the overall sentiment of…this deal is working.”
“If that continues, it means that international actors are not working to stop this now, Iran could reach the stage where it could get there clandestinely because the world is not paying attention to what is going on,” she said.