Why Netanyahu’s Congress Speech Will Fail

The conspiracy hatched by Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to undermine President Obama’s negotiations with Iran over its civilian nuclear weapons program has a false premise that dooms it.

Many Republicans, and Netanyahu, believe that Obama is negotiating a bad deal with Iran that will allow Tehran to run a nuclear enrichment program that would always have the potential to be weaponized at any time the Iranian leadership chose to go in that direction.

Their premise is that instead of negotiating with Iran and putting various limitations on its enrichment program, the US instead could close down Iranian enrichment altogether.

That premise is completely and absolutely unrealistic.

The problem with centrifuge-based enrichment of uranium is that it is open=ended. You could use the centrifuges, as Iran says it is doing, to produce fuel for reactors at 5 percent levels of enrichment. But you could theoretically ramp up centrifuges to enrich uranium to the 95 percent typically needed for a nuclear warhead.

George W. Bush completely rejected Iran’s civilian nuclear enrichment program and refused to talk to Iran, instead menacing it by ordering US aircraft carriers into the Persian Gulf. Every other week in 2007, veteran investigative reporter Sy Hersh wrote a story about an imminent US attack on Iran, based on what he was told by administration insiders, probably especially the Cheney network. But all of Bush’s bluster had no effect on Iran, which went on constructing centrifuges and expanding its knowledge of how to close the fuel cycle.

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