State Dep’t Clarifies Obama’s ‘Muddled’ Words on Iran Nuclear Breakout Time

A crucial declared achievement in last week’s framework agreement is extending Iran’s “breakout” time – the period of time it would take the Iranians to acquire the material needed for one nuclear weapon, once it initiates the work – to at least one year, from current estimates of two or three months.


According to the State Department, that minimum one-year breakout situation will pertain “for a duration of at least ten years.”


In an interview with NPR, Obama spoke of concerns that after 13-15 years, Iran could “have advanced centrifuges that enrich uranium fairly rapidly, and at that point, the breakout times would have shrunk almost down to zero.”


He then noted that current breakout times “are only about two to three months by our intelligence estimates.”


“So essentially, we’re purchasing for 13, 14, 15 years assurances that the breakout is at least a year,” he said, “that if they decided to break the deal, kick out all the inspectors, break the seals and go for a bomb, we’d have over a year to respond. And we have those assurances for at least well over a decade.


“And then in years 13 and 14, it is possible that those breakout times would have been much shorter, but at that point we have much better ideas about what it is that their program involves,” Obama continued. “We have much more insight into their capabilities. And the option of a future president to take action if in fact they try to obtain a nuclear weapon is undiminished.”


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