A secret document obtained by the Associated Press says that restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program could be lifted in as little as 11 years, allowing the Islamic Republic to obtain a nuclear weapon soon thereafter.
According to the document’s text, Iran will be allowed to replace 5,060 of its archaic nuclear centrifuges with as many as 3,500 more advanced models. Some of the advanced models are up to five times more efficient than older ones, cutting the amount of time required to produce a nuclear weapon from one year to as little as six months.
Nuclear centrifuges are the mechanical devices that separate uranium-235 from uranium ore. Uranium-235 is a rare isotope that is used in nuclear weapons. Most uranium ore is comprised of uranium-238, which is not useful in creating nuclear weapons or power plants.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), otherwise known as the Iran nuclear deal, placed certain constraints on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions. While the JCPOA itself was made publicly available shortly after it was inked in July 2015, the document obtained by the AP is the only secret agreement made between Iran and the six international partners.
President Barack Obama initially pushed the deal on Congress and the American public by claiming that it would prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Obama and other supporters of the agreement claimed that the JCPOA would lengthen Iran’s “break out” capacity to a nuclear weapon from three months to one year. The text of the secret document, should it be genuine, shows that in reality that breakout timeline would only last for 11 to 13 years.
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