(JTA) — If Iran violates the framework deal on its nuclear program it would still need at least a year to start producing nuclear arms, U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz said.
Moniz made the assertion Thursday, amid a media blitz by senior members of the Obama administration who praised the framework and defended it from criticism by opponents, including Israel.
“Iran has agreed to extraordinary and comprehensive transparency and IAEA inspections, providing an effective deterrence against covert pathways to a bomb,” Moniz wrote, referring to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. watchdog on nuclear energy.
But Moniz wrote that Iran already has a breakout capability of several months today, and that the deal would increase that time to a minimum of a year.
“Iran’s current breakout timeline of two to three months will be expanded to a minimum of a year,” Moniz wrote, “for at least the next ten years. Its stockpile of enriched uranium will be reduced by 98 percent, leaving it with just 300 kg of 3.67 percent uranium, for the next 15 years.”
Israel and the Gulf states oppose the nascent deal between Iran and six world powers — The United States; Russia; China; France; Britain and Germany — because it is based on cutting sanctions against Iran while allowing it to retain some nuclear facilities, which critics worry would allow Iran to produce nuclear arms within months of deciding to do so with no time for world powers to intervene.
In a separate statement, Secretary of the Treasury Jacob J. Lew wrote that “if Iran fails to abide by its
commitments, the sanctions relief is reversible. And we will continue to use all of our available tools, including sanctions, to counter Iran’s support for terrorism, human rights abuses, and destabilizing regional activities.”
The emerging deal, Lew added, “is not a framework based on trust, it is based on unmatched verification.”