The latest round of nuclear negotiations between world leaders and Iran this week are not likely to lead to a comprehensive deal, according to President Obama’s former “WMD Czar.”
“I have to say, the indications don’t appear very promising that some kind of a comprehensive agreement can be reached, because the Iranians, so far anyway, are just not offering the kinds of concessions that the U.S. is going to demand,” said United Against Nuclear Iran’s Gary Samore, who served as White House Coordinator for Arms Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) until earlier this year.
He said Iran is expected to offer to halt its uranium enrichment at 5 percent. The country has already produced 20-percent enriched uranium, which puts it within close range of producing “weapons-grade” 90-percent enriched uranium.
However, Samore said there are no signs Iran will agree to physical limits on its production capabilities, such as reducing its number of centrifuges or relinquishing the uranium it has already enriched. This means Iran can continue to shrink its “breakout capacity,” the window of time the country would need to quickly enrich enough weapons-grade uranium to build a nuclear bomb.
Samore estimated that Tehran currently has the ability to build a nuclear weapon within “a few months,” and could eventually “squeeze that breakout time down from a couple of months to a couple of weeks” if physical limitations are not placed on its program.
“The Iranian proposal appears to be pretty much boiled over soup,” said Samore. “What they’re offering is really no different from what we’ve heard from the previous government, from [former Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad’s government, for the last couple of years.”
Samore said he does not expect the Obama administration to agree to a deal that does not put restraints on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.
“In the absence of those kinds of concessions that would actually limit Iran’s capacity to produce nuclear weapons material, either highly enriched uranium or separated plutonium, it appears as though the two sides are very far apart on the conditions for lifting the most substantial sanctions the oil and financial sanctions,” said Samore.
Samore made the comments on a conference call organized by The Israel Project on Tuesday.