IDF Director of Military Intelligence Amos Yaldin has stated that Iran could have a nuclear bomb within the next four to six months. He asserted, “In the past few years Iran has completed all of the necessary stages it needs to break out to a nuclear weapon. They have all the tools they need to produce a nuclear weapon once they decide to do so. The main reason they haven’t constructed a bomb yet is that their breakout period is still too long. They want to be able to break out within a shorter time frame. They don’t have sufficient numbers of the right centrifuges to break out sooner. The Iranians currently have over 10,000 centrifuges in two locations and it is quite possible they will make the decision to break out in 2013. This will necessitate an American and Israeli operation.”
Around a week prior to Amos Yaldin’s announcement, the Iranian government proclaimed that it will now use up to 3000 IR-2M centrifuges, which according to Noah Beck, author of The Last Israelis, “can enrich uranium at about quadruple the speed of Iran’s present enrichment rate.” Fred Kagan, the Director of the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), has stated that the IR-2M installation undermine “one of the core assumptions of current U.S. policy,” which is that it is possible for American intelligence to detect Iran crossing a key threshold and developing weapons-grade nuclear material. Noah Beck claims that the much faster IR-2M centrifuges could enable Iran to produce one weapon’s worth of highly-enriched uranium in about a week, which is “the amount of time that IAEA inspectors might be absent before their next visit.”
As Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu declared, “I drew a line at the U.N. last time I was there. They haven’t crossed that line, but what they’re doing is to shorten the time that it will take them to cross that line. The way they’re shortening that time is by putting in new, faster centrifuges that cut the time by one third. This has to be stopped, for the interest of peace and security, for the interest of the entire world. How do you stop it? Well, you have to put greater pressure on them. You have to upgrade the sanctions. And they have to know that if the sanctions and diplomacy fails, they will face a credible military threat.”
While President Obama has not eliminated the military threat from the table when it comes to Iran, he has made his statements proclaiming that all options are on the table seem very meaningless to Iranian officials by nominating Chuck Hagel to be US Secretary of Defense, who is Iran’s preferred candidate for US Secretary of Defense since he is tied to people who are connected to the Iranian lobby, is against calling the Iranian Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization, and is opposed to sanctions against Iran, not to mention a military attack. Historically, it is important to note that the only time that Iran suspended her nuclear weapons program was when former President Bush attacked Iraq and Iran thought she would be next. President Obama, by nominating Chuck Hagel, does not send the message to Iran that there is a credible American military threat.
As Noah Beck proclaimed, “Toothless pronouncements of disappointment and condemnation by the US and EU have been as ineffective at stopping Iran’s nuclear warpath as they’ve been at halting Assad’s daily massacres. Only a truly credible threat of overwhelming force against Iran can peacefully prevent a potential apocalypse, and only the U.S. can deliver such a threat. The U.S. is also the only power that can produce a peaceful resolution by offering Iran a grand bargain of security guarantees and generous economic incentives. Obama may prefer isolationism but 9/11 provided a painful reminder that pernicious threats can easily find us in our small, interconnected world.”
Noah Beck is the author of The Last Israelis, a submarine thriller about the Iranian nuclear threat and the doomsday scenario that it could produce.