Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Khamenei



What is the commonly accepted definition of “breakout time”?

Finally, the 6 + 1 powers that own nuclear arsenals reached an agreement with Iran. For the next 10 years, Iran will be unable to produce a nuclear bomb, even if the regime changes.

If Iran didn’t abide by the fatwa of its imam Khamenei to ban the production of nuclear bombs, Iran could have had one long time ago.

This is the time required to produce enough weapons-grade uranium (WGU) for one nuclear weapon.

To produce WGU, uranium needs to be enriched (e.g., with centrifuges) to more than 90% of its fissile isotope U-235.

The amount of WGU required for one weapon is defined by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as about 27 kg of uranium. This amount is often called a “significant quantity” (SQ).

What is Iran’s current breakout time?

Natural uranium has only 0.7 percent of the isotope U-235, and the effort required to enrich it to one SQ of WGU is about 5,000 Separative Work Units (SWUs).

Iran currently has about 9,000 functioning first-generation IR-1 centrifuges, with another 9,000 not in operation. The IR-1s installed in the Natanz and Fordow facilities have been performing at an average per unit rate of 0.75 to 1 SWU per year.

Using the 1 SWU/year performance of the latest IR-1 model, the breakout time with 9,000 machines using a natural uranium feed would be six to seven months.

However, Iran also has substantial stocks of 3.5% enriched uranium hexafluoride (UF6) that can be used as an alternative feed, shrinking the breakout time to three months.

If Iran brought online its other nearly 9,000 IR-1s, breakout time would be about three months with natural uranium feedstock and four to six weeks with 3.5 percent UF6 feedstock.

Iran has also developed the more advanced IR-2m centrifuge, rated at 5 SWU/year. If the 1,000 IR-2ms installed at Natanz were used in conjunction with all 18,000 IR-1s, the respective breakout times would be cut by a third.

According to media accounts, the proposed nuclear agreement would lower the number of operating centrifuges to around 6,500. In that circumstance, what would Iran’s breakout time be?

Using IR-1s with natural uranium as a feed, the breakout time for 6,500 centrifuges would be about nine months.

A crucial question will be how much 3.5 percent enriched UF6 will remain in Iran. Yet even if UF6 stocks are reduced from their current 7.5-8 tons to 500 kg, a breakout time of between seven and eight months would still be possible given the program’s enrichment capabilities with natural uranium feed.

Since these breakout times are less than the goals set by the U.S. administration, it is important to know what parameters Washington used for its estimates.

The administration says that one of the main achievements of an agreement would be to increase breakout time to at least a year. What else would have to be in the agreement to reach that goal?

The maximum allowed breakout time should be viewed as a combination of detection time and action time — that is, the time required to get Iran back in compliance with the agreement.

Both of these times are difficult to estimate precisely because administrative delays and efforts to resolve disagreements could easily take several months.

How long is the detection time?

Detection time depends on Iran’s actions.

If Tehran does not try to conceal what it is doing, the IAEA would detect a violation fairly quickly — in the worst case perhaps two weeks. The agency would then confirm the finding with Iranian authorities, and the IAEA Board of Governors would need another one or two weeks to take any formal action such as referring the issue to the UN Security Council. This would leave a reasonable amount of time for the international community to act.

Yet if Iran tries to conceal what it is doing, much longer detection times are likely.

As indicated in past IAEA reports, environmental samples play a pivotal role in confirming violations. Due to the large number of samples involved and the meticulous analytical process, the results would not be available for at least two months. And if samples show higher enrichment, additional samples have to be taken and analyzed.

Although the second set of samples would certainly be fast-tracked, it is unrealistic to expect that process and subsequent clarifications by Iran to take less than another month. This would leave the international community with only three or four months to act, an extremely short time.

There are also plausible scenarios of misunderstandings or even differing interpretations of what constitutes a breach of the agreement. In such situations, Iran could drag the process out for many months.

Iran might also pursue a “creep-out” strategy, such as by slowly increasing its inventory of 3.5 percent UF6. This has already taken place under the interim Joint Plan of Action.

When the JPOA was concluded in November 2013, Iran’s 3.5 percent UF6 stock should have been below 7.5 tons; any additional material existing or newly produced should have been converted to oxides. Yet none of the IAEA reports released since then indicate that the stock has been below that amount.

This demonstrates the need for the United States and its partners to maintain vigilance in getting Iran to comply with an agreement and not allowing it to widen the envelope of what is permitted.

The most difficult task is to detect a “sneak-out” violation in which Iran uses clandestine nuclear facilities. This scenario has several variants, including the possibility of an entirely separate, unreported enrichment cycle anywhere along the chain from uranium mining to enrichment. This scenario cannot be excluded because the IAEA has still not been permitted to verify the completeness of Tehran’s declarations on nuclear materials and facilities.

A sneak-out could also involve both declared and undeclared facilities. For instance, Iran could produce low-enriched UF6 in a known facility and then take that material to a smaller undeclared location to produce WGU. Therefore, it is important that the IAEA be empowered to not only verify the completeness of Iran’s inventory of nuclear material, but also establish as a baseline the total number and location of centrifuges inside the country.

If an agreement does achieve a one-year breakout warning time, is it possible to know whether this buffer could be maintained over the life of the deal?

What would change that?

Perhaps the most important factor is the research and development on more advanced centrifuges such as IR-5 or IR-8. Making such machines operational on a semi-industrial scale would likely take at least three years. If they are ten to twenty times more efficient than the current IR-1 centrifuges as estimated, the breakout times would be much reduced.

Warning time could also be shortened if the IAEA is not allowed to fully exercise rigorous monitoring and verification procedures. These range from routine inspections to so-called “anytime, anyplace inspections” and full access to component manufacturing facilities, as well as efforts to follow the procurement of certain dual-use materials and equipment to confirm their end use.

Can centrifuges be used to enrich material other than uranium?

Media reports indicate that some of the centrifuges in Fordow will be dedicated to producing isotopes for medical and industrial use. A similar process is already in use at enrichment facilities in Europe and Russia. A key question will be which kind of stable isotopes will be produced.

If the centrifuges are reconfigured to produce, say, xenon isotopes, the machines could be converted back to enrich uranium fairly easily. Yet if they are used to produce zinc or molybdenum isotopes, contamination could hamper any later attempts to resume production of nuclear-grade materials.

What is the international community’s past experience with predictions of breakout time?

History shows surprises. The Russian centrifuge program went for years without detection despite tremendous intelligence efforts.

The Iraqi and Libyan programs were not immediately detected, and South Africa, which manufactured nuclear weapons, ended up destroying its program before the IAEA saw it.

The Syrian reactor in al-Kibar also came a bit out of the blue, as did North Korea’s advanced centrifuge plant.

There is always the element of the unknown or the uncertain that adds to the risk equation.

Iran has talented engineers and the necessary financial resources, and its nuclear infrastructure is much larger than what it actually needs. Therefore, a monitoring scheme that is merely “good enough” will not guarantee success in preventing Iran from breaking out and achieving a nuclear weapons capability.

Olli Heinonen is a senior fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and a former deputy director-general for safeguards at the IAEA.

Together with Washington Institute fellow Simon Henderson, he coauthored the recently updated Policy Focus Nuclear Iran: A Glossary of Terms, a joint publication of the Institute and the Belfer Center.

Asad Ghsoub shared this link on FB this March 29, 2015

Breakout time can be as short as 3-4 weeks

With reports that Washington and its partners may reach a nuclear accord with Iran in the coming days, a former senior IAEA safeguards official answers the most pressing questions about Tehran’s program…

“Time to learn and apply soft tactics for the same objectives…?” Hezbollah, Rami… (Fiction story?)

In the back seat, behind the driver, Sheikh Kassem is looking at the big file set besides him, and he exhales forcefully.

The black Mercedes with tainted windows crosses the streets of Dahieh smoothly, skipping the red lights.

The car stops in front of a huge plain cement building, studded with tiny elevated windows. Kassem enters a small simple room. The white washed walls let a yellow light seeps from an elevated small window.

A long wooden table filled the center. The photos of the late Ayatollah Khomeini and the current Khamenei, the Wali Fakih of Iran, “control” the assembled members of the  Shawra Council.

Four of the members in the Shawra Council wore white or gray loose tunics, and trimmed medium length beards. Two of the members had black “3amama” head cover: Signifying that they are considered direct descendent of Muhammad.

The members converged from all regions in Lebanon, just to resume the discussion on a particular file, and take a decision in this third meeting.

Al Baaker wore military attire and spoke with a heavy Arabic accent, an Iranian military commander, and who was from the Islamic Iranian Revolutionary Guards two decades ago.

Another member was the Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon.

Haj Radwan, the head of the Party security services, was in military uniform. He was a fighter the Palestinian Fateh movement during Lebanon civil war

Zul Fikar is the previous head of the Party military branch.

Hassan was the last to enter the room and joined the team at the head of the table. He dropped a heavy file and each member readied their own copies of the file.

Hassan opened the session with Koranic statements and said:

“Brothers, this is the third meeting concerning the file in front of us. We have to reach a resolution. Brother Zul Fikar, have you reconsidered your extreme position on the matter?”

Zul Fikar: “I have Samahatak. I am sticking to my stand. This situation should not drag on any longer. We have to finish quickly with this business…”

Hassan: “What of the logistical preparations?
Zul: We have several options. The easiest is to quietly assassinate the contestant with a bullet. Or exterminate him in his bed, in the dark of night, ina quick blow…”

My preferred alternative is to send a violent public message, a drama that a car bomb will remind people that public discontent in the Party is totally inadmissible…”

Hassan: “And what about the logistics?”

Al Baaker: “Allow me Sayyed to speak freely. We have to silence these kinds of thoughts and outbursts that members and ex-members feel at liberty to express publicly. Personal opinions and facts published in books and articles should be submitted to our censorship…”

Haj Radwan: “Sayedna. I agree with Al Baaker and Zul Fikar that we should cut the way on any future public discourse.  We should have in perspective levels of tolerance to free opinions. If we  were in power as a State, we should be adequately tolerant, but we are still struggling as a resistance movement… We could use a small detonation and never admit our responsibilities in the matter. The message will still be heard loud and clear…”

Hassan: “Brother Zul Fikar. Have you discussed this matter with our brothers in Iran?”

Zul: “I did Sayyed and they will support our decisions.”

Hassan: “If there are no other suggestions to submit to the council, I am ready to direct Haj Radwan and Zul to coordinate their activities. Have we settled this problem?”

No one volunteered to object and Kassem felt reluctantly that he should speak this time around.

Kassem: “We meed more discussion. I do not disagree that a strong message should be sent, but the reactions should not be these kinds of violent direct solutions. We are a legitimate political party in the Parliament and the government and our violent resolutions should be very restricted and rare.

Not long ago, we barely believed that our Party will acquire this legitimacy and be representing the people in Lebanon’s brand of democratic process….”

Al Baaker: “Our representation in the system is the result of our violent means and determination…”

Hassan: “Brother Kassem. Please continue your observation.”

Kassem: “It is about time that we conduct our business and policies within the legal framework and never antagonize the voting citizens who seek security and a the proper climate for investment. Our political allies are squeezed and would not tolerate violent decisions.

It’s time to be cautious and learn to apply soft tactics that will achieve the same goals… If we fail to learn and train our cadres to soft and intelligent means, it is doubtful that we will be able to be believable when in power. It would be too late to convince anyone of our tolerant inclination

Zul Fikar: “Sayyedna. We have considered all the logistics and we are ready to execute if you give the green light.”

Hassan: “Brother Kassem.  Would you develop on the kinds of soft tactics that you have in mind? How can we stop this book “The path of the bees”  from being published?”

Al Baaker and Zul were besides themselves and fulminating:  They were still unable to digest the particularities of Lebanon political and social structure and complexities. They insisted on a violent reaction.

Hassan: Brother Kassem. Resume and develop on your ideas”

Kassem: “We have to tone down our rough reactions. We are a political party within this complicated social fabric. We are already taken very seriously locally, regionally, and internationally. We are under close scrutiny and the medias are many and cunning in lambasting every action and move we do. Our movement grew as the advocates of the weak and humiliated citizens, and the people supported wholeheartedly our steadfast struggle. Israel withdrew unconditionally from Lebanon in May 2000, and was defeated in its preemptive war of June 2006 thanks to the massive support of the citizens.

We are set to gain a Parliamentary majority with our allies in 2008, and we cannot skip this opportunity by adopting violent options at this crucial period…”

Hassan: “Brother Kassem. What are your ideas on soft tactics in this case?”

Kassem: “Haj Radwan is a pro in these soft tactics. For the time being, we need a vast support from all religious communities, including the Sunnis, Christians and Druzes. A large support will provide us with a breathing space to maneuver. A book is a weapon with two trenchant sides. We cannot forecast the negative effects of this small book, but a violent reaction will absolutely send a bad wave of discontent and a feeling of growing apprehension to our tactics. The people will wonder: “What could we expect from a violent movement when it comes to power if it is not the same of the kind?”

We need to give the impression that the Party has matured and is strong and is not afraid of public criticisms, even from within its members and previous supporters. Time to learn to accept divergent lines of thinking…”

Hassan: “Brother Radwan. Do you have the necessary means to softly prevent this book from being published?”

Radwan: “Affirmative Sayyedna. We have a vast array of means and connections within the government institutions and the medias to pressure the authors from going ahead with his project and obstruct such a calamity.”

Hassan: “Brother Radwan. I count on your professionalism and dedication. I consider this session closed.

What Sayyed Hassan refused to know in soft tactics, Radwan went forward with his professional knowledge:

1. The security services placed a call to Khaled, in charge of obtaining the necessary legal documents for publishing the book. Khaled bailed out in total terror.

2. Adnan, the younger brother of Rami, was contacted by Jawad, a childhood friend and currently in a position of power in the Party.  Adnan will try his hardest to put the pressure on Rami.

3. The old parents of Rami will be harassed and they will tell Rami: “We are old and have nowhere to go. Where do you expect us to live if the community turns against us?”

Note 1: The book “The Path of the Bees” by Rami Elayk was published in 2008 and translated in several languages.

Note 2: The problem didn’t stop here. Rami published a follow us book “Under the Green water” in 2013. This manuscript is basically an accumulation of diaries of the past 5 years. This voluminous book of 600 pages describes the many ways of soft tactics adopted by the Party to dissuade him from publishing  hard copy manuscripts. The entire book could be told in a dozen pages or a couple of articles, but Rami was intent on describing in details every nooks and crannies of Lebanon, the traffic, his daily life, how bitter were his tears, how depressed was his shriveled father, how inconsolable was his mother…This latest book is not that good, and soft tactics were not necessary to be used.

However, the Party is in difficult situations and struggling on many fronts, politically and militarily, and is in no mood of wasting energy and time on ridiculous soft tactics, this time around…

However, Iran is in a tight spot, and pouring in all its energy to retain Syria in the “Confrontation Front” against the imperialist USA and its stooges Israel. Iran does not want to be bogged down in the labyrinth of Lebanese political nonsense…

Note 3: Rami was ambushed and was saved. His home in Yohmor was blown up.




November 2022

Blog Stats

  • 1,513,291 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by

Join 820 other followers
%d bloggers like this: