Iranian Nukes in Sixteen Days?

The latest hit in the rapidly building drumbeat for war with Iran is that they could have a nuclear bomb at their disposal in sixteen days. The headline is blared across Drudge even as I type this: "Iran 'Could Produce Nuclear Bomb in 16 Days'." So what's the claim based on? Could it possibly be true? In a word, no. Here's the reporting from Bloomberg on the sixteen days claim currently being trotted out by the administration.

Iran will move to "industrial scale" uranium enrichment involving 54,000 centrifuges at its Natanz plant, the Associated Press quoted deputy nuclear chief Mohammad Saeedi as telling state-run television today.

"Using those 50,000 centrifuges they could produce enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon in 16 days," Stephen Rademaker, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation, told reporters today in Moscow.

The small amount of uranium that Iran just announced producing was enriched using 164 centrifuges. The 50-54,000 centrifuges Rademaker is talking about? They do not exist. Here's the AP article Rademaker's basing these numbers on, in case you might be curious. (All emphases mine, of course.)

Deputy Nuclear Chief Mohammad Saeedi said Iran has informed the International Atomic Energy Agency that it plans to install 3,000 centrifuges at its facility in the central town of Natanz by late 2006, then expand to 54,000 centrifuges, though he did not say when.

"We will expand uranium enrichment to industrial scale at Natanz," Saeedi told state-run television.

Saeedi said using 54,000 centrifuges will be able to produce enough enriched uranium to provide fuel for a 1,000-megawatt nuclear power plant like one Russia is finishing in southern Iran.

In theory, that many centrifuges could be used to develop the material needed for hundreds of nuclear warheads if Iran can perfect the techniques for producing the highly enriched uranium needed.

Iran, which has made no secret of its plans to ultimately expand enrichment to around 50,000 centrifuges to fuel reactors, is still thought to be years away from a full-scale program.

This 'sixteen days' claim is nothing short of a sick, fear mongering lie, designed to push public opinion in a pro-war direction. Iran is not now and will not soon be sixteen days away from producing enough material for a nuclear bomb. Andy Grotto, a Senior National Security Analyst with the Center for American Progress pegs five years as the minimum amount of time it will take for Iran to build a nuclear weapon. And the State Department is even less optimistic about the abilities of Iran's nuclear program. As John Aravosis has pointed out, their own website says that "it will be ten years before Iran has a bomb."

Josh Marshall and others may choose to point out that people like Rademaker are known for their dishonesty. That's fine -- there's value to that. But this claim is a straight-up lie, and it doesn't take a background check on Rademaker's character and honesty to prove it. At the end of the day, the unavoidable fact is that, on matters of war, the administration of George W. Bush is not to be trusted. They have proven over and over and over again that when they want to go to war, the truth will not stand in their way.

Tags: Iran, lies, Media, Republicans (all tags)



Re: Iranian Nukes in Sixteen Days?

Yup, indeed. A pile of bullshit deep enough to smother a Donkey.

Just watch Hillary, both Joes and Mark W line up to provide the bass to the dreambeat.

by redstar66 2006-04-12 08:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Iranian Nukes in Sixteen Days?
But it only took them 25 years to get this far.
Is sixteen days that far out?
by Judeling 2006-04-12 08:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Iranian Nukes in Sixteen Days?

The only value to this story is that we now know how soon they wish to act against Iran.

On or before April 28th.

by palamedes 2006-04-12 09:31PM | 0 recs
Must Read

Okay folks, now is the time to read this: /04/maybe-iran-is-not-target.html

And this: 1Ak03.html

That should provide some new perspectives.

by blues 2006-04-12 10:39PM | 0 recs
Also See

Of course, no perspective could be fully examined without input from Alex Jones. Even though he runs duct-tape blogs, he comes up with interesting ideas. (He's the kind of conservative that often quotes Chomsky -- he doesn't mind liberals at all.) So this is quite a different viewpoint: pleted_uranium_a_tool_depopulate_world.h tm

We should also ask what the Europeans are thinking. (These Europeans thought the whole thing would collapse by now, but if events follow their perspective, the whole ballgame could get thrown over the high side. It's no fun this way either.): ?option=com_content&task=view&id =3463&Itemid=85

by blues 2006-04-13 12:18AM | 0 recs
The Real Problems

The thing I want to emphasize is that, even if Iraq had 50 nuclear bombs a year ago, it would really change nothing. Either under it's present government, or under any possible future government, Iran people are vastly more stable than the people in, say, Pakistan. The people in Pakistan are extremely difficult to govern. (But then, that is not their fault.)

The whole question of Iran having weapons is just a mind-trap for foolish Americans, and for some Israelis, who would do well to worry about other things, such as the weakness of global economy.

by blues 2006-04-13 12:37AM | 0 recs
Re: The Real Problems

*Iran, not Iraq!

by blues 2006-04-13 12:38AM | 0 recs

Op-Ed in IRNA, 13 Apr 06, by Iranian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Mohammad-Javad Zarif::

"We have never initiated the use of force or resorted to the threat of force against a fellow member of the United Nations. Although chemical weapons have been used against us, we have never used them in retaliation -- as UN reports have made clear. We have not invaded another country in 250 years."

The administration constantly points to the power of the religious leaders in Iran.  Okey doke:

"The Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has issued the Fatwa that the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam and that the Islamic Republic of Iran shall never acquire these weapons." [IRNA, 10 Aug 05]

by rba 2006-04-13 06:25AM | 0 recs
Targets, targets targets

Ah, which to choose from - all these targets?
If your foreign policy is "pre emptive self defense" , which target?

To look at the real logic of all of this, bear in mind that Iran is actually something of a threat. If they don't play ball , texas oil companies planning to tap the caspian sea dome oilfields, the last big oil field left (apart from the big oil 10b found in the gulf last week by mexico ) will cost 25 cents per gallon on your car for them to extract, possibly pushing their price up to you 50 cents..

Oh yes, and Iran will draw revenue from it. This seriously threatens americas interest-bearing corporate accounts.

I thought it would be nice here to break away from the BS and actually look at the war on terror.

1. Al Qaeda hit us.

  1. Al Qaeda was started in Peshawar, Pakistan
  2. Pakistan has a nuclear weapon
  3. Pakistan has tons of radical muslims
  4. Pakistan - Like Afghanistan, harbors terrorists.
  5. Pakistan, like Iraq, had absolutely nothing to do with 911 - but people who participated in 911 were also in Pakistan.

There were no Iranians involved in the 911 plot.  The 911 attack on America is UNAVENGED. Not one member of the plot has been tracked down and succesfully shut down (mossaui is small fish - we need the head of Osama Bin Laden here, or it will all just keep happening).

Now, lets look at America's DEFENSE TARGETS.

1. Iraq

  1. Iran
  2. North Korea

What, might you ask - do these countries have in common? They have absolutely nothing to do with 911.

by turnerbroadcasting 2006-04-13 03:21AM | 0 recs
Re: Iranian Nukes in Sixteen Days?

If a nuclear physicist type may weigh in: the 16 days claim is dumb.  Not that you need a nuclear physicist to tell you that.

Think "You hear about our new neighbor?  He bought that 600 acre ranch.  And you know what: he owns a shotgun.  If he uses all that land to manufacture a fleet of helicopters and a few dozen tanks, why, he could have a regular army in two weeks!  We need the National Guard to take over his land and do something about that army, now!" dumb.  Only dumber.

by Professor Foland 2006-04-13 03:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Iranian Nukes in Sixteen Days?

I will take a shot at this as well. Lets see..

enrich uranium
design core device
perform drop testing to find critical mass
test fission
test bomb
design delivery vehicle
test delivery vehicle

alright, lets see..

Its like, your neighbor has 1 acre of desert wasteland that he just bought from a mail order catalog - and he has a few shovels and some prospecting pans.

You say in three days he's going to sift out the gold, finance the construction of a giant tank, test fire it, and it's aimed right at your dog -

Iran has about 5 years before they go nuclear. The pakistani's they recruited and the stuff they get on the black market from the russians is junk.

My favorit joke of 1999 was:

Q: Why did pakistan take two years to detonate their first nuclear bomb?

A: It took them that long to read the instruction manual, because it was printed in chinese.

by turnerbroadcasting 2006-04-13 05:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Iranian Nukes in Sixteen Days?

De facto, I was pretty sure that Pakistan and India went nuclear in the '70s.  The tests in the late '90s were posturing.

by Valatan 2006-04-13 07:30AM | 0 recs
Here's my take on it

Sixteen days is the new 45 minutes. Does anyone have a plan for derailing this stampede into war? Since it's a rerun, we already know the game plan, but appeals to raw fear seem to be very difficult to fight effectively.

by KCinDC 2006-04-13 07:10AM | 0 recs
Re: Here's my take on it

I think the only thing we can do in the blogosphere is hit back at each and every lie immediately and strenuously.

by Scott Shields 2006-04-13 07:38AM | 0 recs
Re: Iranian Nukes in Sixteen Days?

If Drudge really wanted to print the truth, each morning's headline would say:


by Bush Bites 2006-04-13 04:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Iranian Nukes in Sixteen Days?

"the State Department is even less optimistic about the abilities of Iran's nuclear program."

Just for the record, I'd have said "less pessimistic."

by drlimerick 2006-04-13 04:58AM | 0 recs
The Big Question Now

Is what can we do here?  Where are the action threads?  Where are the protests?  It is inconceivable for me to think that we are all ready this shit, getting equally angry and letting it roll off our backs.  Come one people!!  Have we been beaten down?  Start asking for total de-proliferation.  This is the time

by Mark J. Bowers 2006-04-13 05:30AM | 0 recs
Re: The Big Question Now

You bet your ass it is, J B !!!

by blues 2006-04-17 10:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Iranian Nukes in Sixteen Days?

Of course Rademaker knows the Iranians don't (yet) have 50,000 centrifuges -- Rademaker himself is clear on this in the same Bloomberg piece that's selectively quoted in your header.

"Iran has informed the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency that it plans to construct 3,000 centrifuges at Natanz next year, Rademaker said."

Rademaker clearly isn't arguing that the Iranians could have the bomb in 16 days, he's simply noting that the Iranians could produce enough HEU for a bomb is 16 days assuming 50,000 centrifuges working in cascades.

The likelihood of the Iranians cobbling together that many centrifuges is just about zero.

What's more interesting is his following statement:

``We calculate that a 3,000-machine cascade could produce enough uranium to build a nuclear weapon within 271 days,'' he [Rademaker] said.

I personally doubt the Iranians can do what they say, but let's assume that they can.  One year to build, install, and calibrate plus another year to enrich seems scary enough. Perhaps Prof. Foland can give on reality check on that claim...

I mean that sincerely, but still want to tweak the good Professor's analogy.

I think it's more like:  "Our neighbor with the shotgun has just admitted to an international monitoring organization that he's secretly been trying to manufacture shotgun parts for the last ten years (but only after the organization caught him in a series of lies)!  I wonder why he wasn't honest before?    Well, I suppose we should just trust him."  dumb.  Only dumber

by RummysWorld 2006-04-13 05:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Iranian Nukes in Sixteen Days?

I didn't quote selectively from the Bloomberg piece. It's been updated and lengthened to reflect the actual Iranian comments from the AP story. It's also worth noting that Drudge pulled the headline and the link, both from his front page and his headlines archive. I'd be lying if I said I didn't hope I had something to do with that.

by Scott Shields 2006-04-13 07:35AM | 0 recs
Re: Iranian Nukes in Sixteen Days?

Everyone's abandoned the thread, but I did want to say a word here.  Actually, I am very nervous about throwing around claims that it is definitely ten years to an Iranian weapon.  I don't know of any technical reason it would take that long--that said, I've heard rumors of various metallurgical issues with Iranian ore which I would love to hear more about.  Which is to say: there are no obvious technical reasons it will take such a long time, but there may be non-obvious reasons.  

So let me tread carefully: I think the timescale is surely measured in years.  I think the ten-year estimates is based on a mix of technical and resource judgments, and I don't know which dominates.  If it's technical, then ten years is probably right.  If it's resource, then the Iranian regime is probably capable of accelerating it.  

I didn't say it's dumb to think that it might be shorter than ten years.  I said 16 days is dumb, because it is.

On the history of Iran and the IAEA inspectors.  Let me be clear:  looking at the choices they've made and reading between the lines, Iran's program is clearly intended to give them the option of building a weapon.  Whether you call that "lying" or "keeping your options open" is a matter of taste.  That said, they have actually not crossed any bright IAEA or NPT lines as far as I know.  There was one potential breach (finding of HEU particles in a centrifuge) which the IAEA concluded was prior contamination not from the Iranian enrichment program.  

Don't get me wrong.  An Iranian nuclear enrichment program is bad bad bad.  But I think we properly have to understand precisely how bad it is and isn't.  Because it's not a crisis that has to be solved in the next 16 days.  It's a situation that does have to managed over the coming years.

by Professor Foland 2006-04-14 05:03AM | 0 recs
Re: Iranian Nukes in Sixteen Days?

By now it should be painfully obvious (now to EVERYONE.. including the elite press and beltway insiders) that there is a whole class of people in high positons in this Administration that are totally divorced with reality.  To actually seriously consider attacking a nation with nuclear weapons when your own analysts think that they are YEARS away from producing a nuclear bomb... is ludicrous.  Then to imply that the same nation is mere days away from producing the bomb is laughable.

Mr. Rademaker (distant kinship to Hinderaker?) should have just about zero credibility given his statements about "16 days."

I can't even imagine what the day after the U.S. drops nuclear bombs on Iran would be like.  It's too insane to even consider.

by wintersnowman 2006-04-13 05:38AM | 0 recs
Re: Iranian Nukes in Sixteen Days?

Why drop any kind of bombs on Iran? Negotiated nonproliferation worked astonishingly well for 50 years. So of course, the neocons feel the instinctive need to absurdify the whole thing -- make it into this huge "problem" -- which can only be "solved" by giving them more money and us less freedom.

They know their ugly business.

by blues 2006-04-17 10:15AM | 0 recs


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