Contrary to the tweets of supposed experts who apparently do not know how to read (@Colinkahl), AEI’s Critical Threats Project does NOT predict that Iran will acquire a nuclear capability in 42 days. Maseh Zarif DOES conclude that any “deal” with Iran that does not include the verifiable dismantling of all current Iranian enrichment facilities and/or removal of all enriched uranium even at the 3.5% level leaves Iran in a position to acquire the weapons-grade (90%-enriched) uranium it needs for one warhead in a short period of time.
His updated assessments of the Iranian nuclear program show that Iran could acquire the 25 kilograms of weapons-grade uranium needed to make an atomic warhead within 42 days of deciding to do so in a worst-case scenario. That should be very worrisome to those who are seriously committed to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. It shows primarily that any deal focused on Iranian suspension of enrichment to 20%, or even the removal of the current stockpile of 20%-enriched uranium from Iran, will have very little impact on Iran’s ability to move rapidly toward the acquisition of a warhead’s worth of weapons-grade uranium if and when it decides to do so.
The question of Iran’s capability to field an atomic weapon is complex and fraught—which is why anyone serious about understanding it knows better than to try to discuss it 140 characters at a time. I think it’s worth wrestling with the complexity to understand what Iranian offers and IAEA reports really mean. Others, recently in the current administration, apparently do not.