Iran Nuclear Program Has a Potential 3 Month Breakout But Loses a Lead Scientist

A top Iranian nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, was killed by five gunmen.

There have been successful assassinations of leading Iranian nuclear scientists since 2010.

This is the first successful assassination since 2012.

The Iranian government has difficulty recruiting scientists for nuclear research.

Arms Control Report on Iran’s Nuclear Program

The IAEA concluded that Iran’s uranium stockpile is now 12 times larger than permitted under the old nuclear agreement.

The IAEA’s Sept. 4 report notes that Iran’s stockpile grew by 533 kilograms since the Agency’s June 5 report, a change slightly smaller than the 550-kilogram increase between the March and June quarterly reports and the 648-kilogram increase between the November 2019 and March reports. Importantly, the IAEA report also confirms Iran has not exceeded a 4.5 percent uranium-235 enrichment level since it first breached the 3.67 percent limit in June 2019.

The current breakout estimate for Iran to produce one bomb’s worth of highly enriched uranium is about 3-4 months, down from the 12 months when the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) was fully implemented. However, Iran has now produced about enough uranium enriched from 2-4.5 percent for a second bomb.

Iran has begun to construct a hall for the manufacturing of centrifuges in “the heart of the mountains” near Natanz.

The JCPOA would have lasted from Oct 2015- Oct 2025. If Iran had fully complied with the terms.

SOURCES- IAEA, Arms Control, AP
Written By Brian Wang,

86 thoughts on “Iran Nuclear Program Has a Potential 3 Month Breakout But Loses a Lead Scientist”

  1. Presumably this is developments since 1987 when Alvarez published the book that quote comes from.
    Also I would still expect the bred plutonium to be taken from the reactor & chemically extract from the uranium after a brief period like the Manhattan project did to limit the amount of Pu240, which greatly increases the difficulty of creating a nuclear explosion

  2. In the 1940s. Not now. Computers can figure out the shape charges needed and today's electronics are fast and accurate enough to handle the timing needed.

  3. North Korea bought both. There are some countries that will sell you both. The reactor wouldn't be that difficult to build since there are enough info on the web. As for enriched uranium that you can buy uncover. Russia would be a good source.

  4. You write -'Please read this one page PDF where the following quote is taken: "U-233 has been shown to be highly satisfactory as weapons material; however it has substantial technical advantage over plutonium…. '
    Then you leave out the bit that goes on ' ..only in certain environments, and the probability of those environments being encountered is quite low.'
    Your other link is a good summary, but as he says, 'Really, most civilian power to bombs proliferation paths are mythical, in any reactor, because they’re so difficult!' As you say, you could make bomb-grade Pu from low burn-up light water fuel, but you guys are paid well to make sure there isn't any low burn-up. That would be a colossal waste of resources.
    There are only a handful of countries that build jet aircraft, or rockets capable of reaching orbit, but every country benefits from using civil airliners and satellites. They should all get the benefit of nuclear power too. As Doctor Pat says, the guys supplying the fuel and the plant can make it very hard, if not impossible, to weaponise. Those who can get hold of their own centrifuge plant, Silex equivalent, or production reactor, there's not a lot anyone else can do to stop them. Short of war.
    By the way, I'm a boomer, not a millennial.

  5. As Rod said, it's hard to prove a negative, that you can't make bombs from reactor grade plutonium. If you can prove a positive, that somebody actually has done so, that's a pretty good argument. I think he shows that that claim is untenable in this case. The contrary is that a lot of countries have looked at building nuclear weapons, not just the nine who have them now plus South Africa, but also Sweden, Yugoslavia, Switzerland, Taiwan, Brazil, Argentina, Iraq, Libya, Iran, maybe even Australia. They all had scientists and enough resources for a serious programme. If there was an easy route to a weapon, without needing 90+ % enriched U235 ( up from 0.72% , with a mass difference of only 0.01 percent to separate them ), or Pu239 with less than 10 percent Pu240, chances are somebody would have done it. The US spent nearly 3 trillion dollars on nuclear weapons during the cold war ( according to the XKCD money chart ), but they never used the spent fuel that was lying round in kilotonne quantities. Pu240 is just too twitchy, with a spontaneous fission rate about 10,000 times higher than for Pu239. It would work fine as fast reactor fuel though, and quickly become even less suitable for a bomb, with a hells brew of isotopes far too hot, in both senses, to put in a warhead. Buried, as too dangerous to deal with, the spent fuel is unlikely to harm our remote descendants, but if they wait long enough, the Pu240 will decay, and they'd have a weapons-grade plutonium mine.

  6. Biden is going to appease Iran, just like happened under Obama-Biden-Kerry. Unless the Israelis plan to make Sleepy Joe sleep with the fishes, I don't see that capping stray scientists here and there will really stop Iran from nuclearizing.

  7. The Saudis also "ordered" Pakistan to fight in the Yemen war for them – and got turned down flatly, due to the Pakistanis not wanting to undermine relations with Iran. The Saudis have already called in their loans to Pakistan, which Pakistan has now repaid by borrowing from China. So it's not clear how much leverage the Saudis retain with Pakistan, which is increasingly in the arms of China. Since China is about to sign a far-reaching strategic pact with Iran, it's not likely that the Pakistanis can afford to be at cross-purposes with them.

  8. That article completely fails to prove what it claims to prove.

    Claim: Proof that material from commercial reactors can not be used for bombs

    Actual evidence put forward: One particular nuclear bomb test, which was said to be from a commercial reactor, must have been from reactors that did not match what current commercial reactors would produce.

    The rest was just ad hominems against people who argue against breeder reactors. Which might be correct in terms of their character, but does nothing for disproving the original thesis.

  9. You are comparing a thirty-year old version to the much upgraded modern version. That would be like comparing a 1960 Sidewinder missiles PK to that of a 990 Sidewinder, absurd.

  10. Nope, had not. I based my scenario on the fact that bats and viruses were apparently studied at a center in Wuhan, and how I've heard things get done in China.

    A director selling animals is a bit more direct and stupid than I anticiplated.

  11. You probably saw the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists article claiming a former director at the Wuhan virus research station had been caught selling lab animals to the wet market.

  12. The anti-proliferation guys claim you could make a bomb out of anything, but whether you would is a different story. The US, the Soviets and India all tried a bomb with U233 and plutonium, but none tried it twice. The US tried one bomb with 'reactor grade plutonium', but it wasn't from a light water reactor – the Brits sent it over from one of their early graphite/gas reactors, after fairly low burnup.

  13. Would they not ? Israel set up an assassination team to take out the Munich Olympic hijackers. Ooops, killed a completely innocent waiter in Oslo. Rather like the British couple accidentally poisoned by Putin's killers in Salisbury. Try reading 'Apeirogon', by Colum McCann. It's about two guys from the peace movement in Israel/Palestine, an Israeli whose daughter was blown up by a suicide bomber, and a Palestinian whose daughter died after being shot in the head by an Israeli rubber bullet, on her way to school. All factual, but the detail on daily life for Arabs in the West Bank is an eye-opener. Gaza is much worse. The Iranian regime sure doesn't hold the moral high ground in the Middle East, but that's one piece of territory America's allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia, don't show much interest in either.

  14. You're correct, I haven't been sufficiently diligent in tracking the personal details that everyone lets slip. Though it was the goose aspect, not the boiled bit that got me wondering.

    And yes, I am aware we've previously discussed the point about separating Uranium and Thorium. The issue I had forgotten/not-been-aware of was that the MSR boys wanted to mix in a lot of U238 to prevent this from working.

  15. Well, if you are going to nuke a city and don't have a rocket program why not put that big 'ol bomb on a commerical jet? Your victim will probably never see it coming.

  16. There are good assissinations,this is certainly one,no one with a concience would equate anything Putin does ,with anything the US or Israel does.

  17. Certainly solar power promised 100% of American grid power by 1980 and we didn't get close to 1% by then, we could have been GHG free with nuclear ,so yes of course solar power advocates ,financed by coal and natural gas people ,have dragged down the low Carbon source we could have had.

  18. Brian ,you got some bad information,there was nobody at the operation,it was all done robotically, the truck fired from a remote controlled machine gun,which struck the scientist in the back.
    Very nice operation by the Israelis,I believe there is still a Russian nuclear scientist on the list who should be eliminated if he persists.

  19. If Iran unleashes a pillage and burn ransomware campaign in the US, it's not going to be pretty.

    THey already have. It's called Twitter

  20. Thorcon concept puts enough 238U in the fuel salt to make it "proliferation proof."

    Ah. That's the bit I was missing.

    So as long as international bodies have control over what fuel you put in the reactor, you can't make a bomb from it.

  21. The assassination may have been done via a remote-controlled gun:

    "A senior Iranian official has now claimed that Israel killed top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh last week using a gun in either a remote-controlled or entirely automated mount on a pickup truck and that no actual human assassins were involved. No hard evidence has been provided to substantiate this assertion, which sounds like it was ripped straight from the 1997 action movie The Jackal, but it's not entirely implausible."


  22. You could always put the bomb on a back of a truck and sneak it close to a US base in the middle east. How far is Al Asad from Iran? Perhaps through Syria and into Israel?

    Could an F14 be modified to carry a bomb the size of Fat Man or Little Boy? I think it could be.

  23. Patriot 161/184! That made me chuckle. Did a fine job protecting Saudi oil refineries against a bunch of Yemeni drones.

  24. Most of the yard stuff is just momentum. It remains that way because it is that way. Economies of scale and such.
    These proposed bans are not a collection of frivolities. The small gasoline engines in yard equipment and generators have no catalytic converters and produce copious amounts of harmful emissions. We almost certainly would get improvements in health that greatly exceed the cost of conversion. And running electric is cheaper in the long run, assuming the batteries can be charged several hundred times. Weight is fairly similar. Electric is also quieter which means less sleep disturbance.
    55m pickups use 31% of all transport energy. 200m cars use 24%. A substantial fraction of trucks are worse than that because they have been illegally modified:
    These devises are already banned…that did not work.

    The military is not about creating death. It is about serving as a deterrent to invasion and addressing any attempt where that was insufficient. Shutting down those attacks, not about tallying an obscene body count.
    And efficiency is very much in their interest. If our basses are nuclear, generators on base won't waste our fuel, if wires are cut from power plants. The more we use VR the less our adversaries know our capabilities. Efficiency also means more range.

  25. Are you serious? That's an awful lot of banning you wish for. My idea is to let technology have it's course and people will choose the best option. I.e. purchase gas leaf blowers until there are battery operated ones with the same performance.

    And the military should of course primarily focus on being deadly, not eco friendly.

  26. Iran did pull all the fuel out of Bushehr after a couple of months operation, so the plutonium quality might have been good enough for a bomb. 'Loading of fuel into the reactor core was finished in November 2010. However, in February 2011 Iran informed the IAEA that the fuel would have to be removed. A broken pump had caused small metal particles to infiltrate the reactor's cooling system, and it was feared that the particles might have made their way into the fuel assemblies. It was speculated that the Stuxnet computer virus had caused damage to the facility.' Probably too many Russians and IAEA officials about for them to stash away a few rods for later use, though.

  27. Which is why you confused everyone when you wrote a sentence that appeared to say that China introduced commercial nuclear power reactors to protect itself from its enemies.

  28. Largest coal power plant in the world in the middle of the desert:'49.0%22N+111%C2%B021'52.0%22E/@40.1867234,111.345718,14727m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x0!8m2!3d40.196944!4d111.364444?hl=en
    All that power goes directly to Beijing.
    Beijing air quality:
    The fact remains that thorium molten salt reactors are better as their end-products are not likely to be useful in the manufacture of nuclear weapons. I did not say start building them in Iran tomorrow. There is nothing far fetched about the technology. Just needs a little time to mature.
    It is better for the World to have thorium molten salt reactors in unstable places and places where the leaders have espoused genocidal rhetoric, rather than traditional nuclear power plants to avoid nuclear proliferation.
    Thorium is coming along:

  29. The assassination response is going to get interesting. If Iran unleashes a pillage and burn ransomware campaign in the US, it's not going to be pretty. But, there is a calculus behind whether they would choose to burn their access to systems now for mayhem, or retain it for future use but risk losing it in the interim.

  30. It's mostly a delivery system and manufacture issue. Having just one or two nuclear bombs, without a good way to drop them on somebody else in a hurry, just makes you a very important to destroy target.

  31. Probably not – generally you wouldn't release a bioweapon in your own nation.

    My pet theory is that some researchers finished studying the virus in bats and ordered subordinates to destroy the bats. That chore got passed down the chain of command, eventually to some janitors who were supposed to incinerate them but instead smuggled the live bats out to sell in the wet market.

  32. Sorry if you misunderstood. But I thought most people knew that China has had nuclear weapons since the 1960s.

    China completed its first commercial nuclear reactor in 1991. And it began its massive commercial nuclear build early in the 21st century.

  33. Possession of nuclear weapons has pushed us into the realm of engineered biological warfare. The stalemate has been broken.

  34. An experimental nuclear reactor is not the same as a commercial nuclear reactor.

    Saudi Arabia plans to build two commercial nuclear reactors. Is Israel going to bomb them too? Or does Israel prefer Sunni Muslims (the ones who attacked the US during 9-11) over Shiites (the ones who actually had a candlelight vigil in Tehran) for US victims immediately after the attack).

  35. They may be found in association with one another, but a well tends to be dug looking for one or the other. Companies defintely specalize in oil or gas, transport of oil or gas, oil refining or selling one or the other to buisnesses or the public, running/building the power plants or even just storage. Often if they are after the oil, they just burn off any natural gas comming out of the well. You need the infrastructure in place to capture and transport gas or oil…and gerally you have things set up for one or the other.
    True, there are megacorps that do all of the above. Still, the motivation was about the oil being turned into electric power as, at the time, that is where the big dollars were being made. And they made a lot of money importing cheap oil and burning it in these power plants.

  36. Light water reactors are not ideal for making bombs but the used fuel can be a usable source. It would take decades and several reactors…or experiments using the reactor in ways is was not designed for.

  37. They would blow them up in the middle of the night when casualties would be minimal (if the was no deal to return used fuel to Russia).

  38. China moved the coal power plants into the desert close to the coal mines and away from the population centers. They put up 1.1 million Volt power lines to send the power generated to the cities. Their air quality is not as horendus as it was.
    It is the planet that needs coal burnning to end.
    Apparently, the reactor was permitted because there is an agreement in place to ship any used fuel to Russia. So maybe that is a viable strategy. Not ideal. Molten salt thorium reactors would be better.

  39. Instead of messing with oil, he could increase the deductions for electric cars, get after the people defeating the emissions on their vehicles and prosecute makers and installers, demand higher fuel efficiency from autos of all types, ban sale of new gas yard tools: mowers, leaf blowers, edgers, chainsaws and weed whackers (sell natural gas, propane and electric). Ban sales of new gasoline and Diesel generators. Ban the sale of new Diesel and gasoline pickup trucks. Require them to be natural gas, or electric. Electrify freight rail and require more freight moved by rail. Require all new road tires to be low rolling resistance (with measured standards for that designation). Track and off-road tires should have a colored dot 1 inch in diameter and sticking above the surface on the sidewall. And any defeat of that triples the fine using that tire on the road.
    Ban leaded fuel in small aircraft.
    Move the military toward cleaner, higher efficiency vehicles. They also need to look at using reactors that don't require highly enriched uranium to reduce the cost of nuclear so we can expand the use of nuclear in Navy ships. Those modular reactors seem like good choices. They can also power our military bases everywhere.
    We also need to greatly increase the use of simulators reducing practice in actual military vehicles using high-end VR. And training on base should use electric versions of vehicles.

  40. The life expectancy of an Iranian nuclear scientist does not look good. Also, when Iran keeps complaining that someone keeps killing their nuke bomb scientists (what is this, 8th so far?) maybe someone should tell them to stop. Eventually they will run out of scientists.

  41. Iran wanted to make nukes they would have done so already. A reminder to all here, that nukes were first made 3/4s of a century ago. It is not a difficult thing to do and Iran has been fully capable of making them for a long time.

  42. Those were small 'research' reactors, probably intended for making weapons grade plutonium. Bushehr is far bigger, and is clearly a civilian plant, pretty much useless for bomb making. Attacking it would be equivalent to blowing up a hydro dam, including very likely with civilian casualties. Not that Israel hesitated to blow up Gaza's only power plant last time they felt like it.

  43. I was under the impression that, given how long F4s and F14s lasted in every other air force, that the ones the Iranians got in the 1970s are either flying deathtraps that will fall out of the sky from metal fatigue at the first hard turn, or they have been sitting in preservation all this time meaning the pilots have next to zero hours training, or a combination of both.

  44. I didn't say that China is protected from its enemies because of its commercial nuclear reactors.

    That's the way I interpreted it.

  45. Purposely killing Russian and Chinese personal who are helping Iranians to build– peaceful– commercial nuclear reactors in Iran would be considered– an act of war– by Russia, China, and Iran.

    Russia already has a permanent military base in Syria (a strong Russian and Iranian ally). And they would swiftly retaliate.

    I don't think Israel would want to go down that perilous route!

  46. Yeah their air force would essentially be target practice for American fourth generation planes. For American fifth generation planes it would be a… a joke. A waste of airframe time.

  47. That base had no missile defense system in place. Last time I check Patriot was 161/184 on interceptions. Pretty solid.

    Israel has several air fields where the hangers are built into hillsides with exposure only to the west. Not much an Iranian IRBM will do to those other than put a hole in the runway.

  48. Their missiles did a fair bit of damage to our air base in al-Asad, Iraq in January. If we were capable of stopping those missiles, why wouldn't we have? And if we can't stop them, I don't think Israel will fair much better. They appeared to do exactly the amount of damage they intended.
    If they can hit the Israeli air bases before Israel gets its aircraft off the ground their F-14s would prove quite effective.
    I am not saying they will try this, I am just saying there is no reason to trivialize their capabilities.

  49. Since oil & natural gas tend to come out of the same wells, big oil & big natural gas tend to be the same organizations.

  50. Be that as it may, the Biden administration is coming into power. If the campaign means anything, or more significantly, if the administration will listen to the "base" of the democratic party, fracking and drilling for oil will be fought tooth and nail.

    I.e. there is a high probability of the USA becoming dependent on the oil of the middle east again…

  51. I know that making China prosperous has brought the rest of the world a lot of cheap goods, i.e. made the world richer on average.

    But it was a big misstake.

    Although it was obvious at the time, USA was always destined to win the cold war against the Soviet Union. USA had a larger population, more advanced technology and capitalism. The capitalism ensured that the USA would always be in front of the technological race.

    China has more than 4 times the population compared to the USA and they are quickly becoming the second place in technology. They have a version of capitalism coupled with political communism. They don't have to match the productivity of the USA to surpass them in money, power and military might. The sheer number of engineers in China may make them the leader of technology as well.

    Furthermore, the journalists and the intelligentsia of the West are openly siding with China against the USA, which further weakens the fight for liberty. Biden is now coming to power in the USA, so the attempt to level the playing field will be abandoned soon.

    So the cost of making the Chinese richer may be to put the rest of the world under the thumb of a communist dictatorship. For me, the money is just not worth the loss of freedom. I can only hope that demographics will cripple China for some time so that new possibilities emerge. A dream scenario would be a divided China, perhaps 3 or 4 countries, but that is unlikely to happen…

  52. You need to write your sentences more clearly. 
    But I guarantee the Israelis will blow up the reactors before the fuel shows up, if that is an option, which it almost certainly will be. If that does not happen, they will not hesitate to blow it up anyway, regardless of political fallout or actual fallout.
    Radiation would be minimal as long as it was not in operation. It is the hot steam that carries stuff around. It will leave a mess, but it will all be within 10 or 20 miles.

  53. I said Iran needs to invest in commercial nuclear energy like China has.

    I didn't say that China is protected from its enemies because of its commercial nuclear reactors. China has a large nuclear arsenal which it already had– long before its massive investment in commercial nuclear energy.

    And it would be illogical for Israel to pollute– its own neighborhood– with radiation by bombing dozens of nuclear reactors being operated by its neighbors??? The entire region and the world would condemn it!

  54. Possession of nuclear weapons do seem to assure that no country will openly invade one. But modern war is a lot more subtle than that, based on espionage to avoid another country having or gaining a technological edge and propaganda amplified by digital media with "AI" that can target susceptible individuals.

    And gone nearly unremarked in the furor over whether Dominion voting machines are tools for election fraud, are casual statements – of course unverified – that the CIA has software tools for interfering with other nations electronic election systems.

    Russia and China and increasingly other countries have instituted tight control over their internal internets – not just to prevent the free flow of ideas (which was bad enough for them) but to prevent intentional propagandizing. Meanwhile they have taken advantage of US internet openness.

    The US is on the verge of implementing similar controls via government mandates on the big internet companies, using the lever of threatening to break them up. In return for their cooperation (and in fact increasingly eager support for new laws 'controlling' them) those companies will effectively be granted near permanent monopolies in the form of huge entry barriers for competition.

  55. Actually, there is evidence that the anti-nuke people were funded by those who had large investments in big oil. Oil at the time was a major producer of electricity, even if they are down to 0.5% today and will be 0.1% or lower in less than a decade in the US.
    The massive escalation of Oil as electrical was a terrible move that was a result of government abandonment of Eisenhower's "Mandatory Oil Import Quota Program" which limited the importation of oil to 12.2% of domestic production. You can thank Nixon for that stupidity. Though, Johnson also did nothing to stop the construction of a lot of oil power plants, and the production of a lot of inefficient cars. But it was Nixon who endangered the US economy by removing that limit, exposing us to oil extortion. An opportunity that was fully exploited.

  56. "Iran needs to invest in commercial nuclear energy– on a massive scale–the same way China did in order to protect itself from hostile foreign enemies."
    That makes no sense. How did that protect China? China had coal, and hydro. And they now have oil production, natural gas, wind, solar. And who are these "hostile enemies of China"? Are you talking their #1 trading partner…the US? The US did everything they could to bring prosperity to China in the mistaken belief that with wealth would come a demand for more democratic governance. And our investors and businesses invested heavily in China.
    Don't get me wrong, I am pro nuclear power, but the idea that China "needed" it is ludicrous. Similarly, Iran can use oil for power, they don't "need" nuclear. The Earth is what needs nuclear.
    Nuclear power plants in Iran would just be fat targets for Israelis to blow up and possibly cause nuclear messes to clean up.
    The only way they could do nuclear is if it was molten salt thorium reactors.

  57. Seriously, if Iran wants nuclear weapons they will get them. If they do, we are as much to blame for it as they are.

  58. Nuclear weapons simply assure that no country in their right minds will attack your country, and Iran has had ample attacks against it to give it incentive.
    1) In the late 70's Iran decided to nationalize their oil because of price disagreements. Their republic was overthrown by a cabal of western companies and governments and the Shah of Iran was installed as our pet dictator. The SAVAC would disappear or "persuade" anyone who did not like what had happened in job lots. It took a religious rebellion to end this state of affairs, and the Iranian people have paid the price ever since.
    2) Iraq, their neighbor, was invaded not once but twice. The second time under extremely fishy yellow cake accusations that turned out to be false.
    3) After signing a nuclear accord agreement under President Obama, it was scrapped by the next President that came to power. This occurred not because Iran was not following their end of the deal but because of a combination of internal US politics and also admittedly bad actor actions that had absolutely nothing to do with the deal like missile technology advancements and regional power plays.
    So, while we get on our moral high horse, they do have reason to want a defense against invasion and ample evidence that "we" are not to be trusted.
    On a positive note, Israel and Saudi Arabia will have our backs and are willing to fight Iran to the last American if need be.

  59. You seem to be responding to another NBF post than this one about Iranian bombs, but I will respond to you here anyway.

    My understanding is that a major reason for the cost overruns of US nuclear reactors in the 1970 was the combination of high interest rates & delays forced by legal challenges by antinuclear organizations.
    You have a point about 'tree hugging' not being responsible. My suspicion is that those antinuclear organizations were quietly funded by coal & natural gas interests. Who would benefit more from stopping nuclear power?

  60. "With modern weapons-grade uranium, the background neutron rate is so low that terrorists, if they had such material, would have a good chance of setting off a high-yield explosion simply by dropping one half of the material onto the other half. Most people seem unaware that if separated U-235 is at hand, it's a trivial job to set off a nuclear explosion, whereas if only plutonium is available, making it explode is the most difficult technical job I know" Luis Walter Alvarez
    As quoted in

  61. There are ways to encourage higher US oil production. Oil companies get tax breaks, we can make those a function of higher production and export. You don't produce any more than the year before and you get no tax breaks. You get increasing tax breaks as you produce and export more. Those that operate more efficiently will be able to still make a substantial profit.
    Russia kills retired people and attempts to kill its own domestic political opponents. Israel mostly kills terrorists, and essential military related people in regimes that have stated the destruction of Israel as a national goal. And some of the alleged assassinations may have been done by other Mideast groups and made to look like Israel did them. Though, I admit, that is probably a small subset.

  62. Those that value empirical evidence over unsupported beliefs might find this interesting. Still no sign of support for the hypothesis that all things related to tree hugging is responsible for the state of nuclear power in America.

    Surprised but not really, how could the "learning rate" be -115%? The more Americans build nuclear plants, the more inept they become.

    "the largest increases occurred in what they termed indirect costs: engineering, purchasing, planning, scheduling, supervision, and other factors not directly associated with the process of building the plant….The typical plant built after 1970 had a cost overrun of 241 percent…problems that reduced the construction efficiency contributed nearly 70 percent to the increased costs…(Three Mile Island)Interviews with construction workers indicated that they were spending as much as 75 percent of their time idle…"

    "DOI: 10.1016/j.joule.2020.10.001
    Sources of Cost Overrun in Nuclear Power Plant Construction Call for a New Approach to Engineering

    Design Nuclear plant costs in the US have repeatedly exceeded projections. Here, we use data covering 5 decades and bottom-up cost modeling to identify the mechanisms behind this divergence. We observe that nth-of-a-kind plants have been more, not less, expensive than first-of-a-kind plants. 'Soft' factors external to standardized reactor hardware, such as labor supervision, contributed over half of the cost rise from 1976 to 1987…"

  63. Note that if Iran gets the bomb, Saudi Arabia will soon follow:

    Saudi nuclear weapons 'on order' from Pakistan

    "Last month Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israeli military intelligence,
    told a conference in Sweden that if Iran got the bomb, "the Saudis will
    not wait one month. They already paid for the bomb, they will go to
    Pakistan and bring what they need to bring." "


  64. Does Iran already have the bomb?:

    "there’s a great deal of concern that, as one senior U.S. official told
    the New York Times, “the North Koreans are testing for two countries.”
    The classic case of testing for another country is when the United
    States tested for the U.K. under the 1958 U.S.–U.K. Mutual Defense
    Agreement. The situation with the Hermit Kingdom and the Islamic
    Republic is different: The North Koreans certainly aren’t going to make
    the cooperation quite so explicit, but they’re also not hiding it."


  65. The US isn't a command economy, and the price of oil is already marginal for producers there. Exporting oil below cost would violate every anti-cartel law. More importantly, the biggest corrupt regime relying on oil is Saudi, the US's best buddy and major arms market.
    When Putin's Russia commits assassinations, it is rightly criticised and sanctioned. When it's Israel, not a peep. Rather like the situation with nuclear weapons, really. Israel supposedly has enough fissile to make more warheads than India or Pakistan. Like North Korea, they've never shown much interest in peaceful use of the atom.

  66. At this point, who really even cares about Iran? Oil market is grossly oversupplied and their #2 export is pistachios if we're not counting terrorists. They have nothing to offer the world and if they actually do start threatening people with a couple of nukes just glass them. It's not like North Korea where you have to worry more about conventional artillery than their nuclear weapons.

  67. Iran doesn't need nuclear weapons to protect itself from Israel and Saudi Arabia. Possessing a relatively primitive nuclear arsenal would only make Iran a genocidal target for Israel and the US.

    Iran needs to invest in commercial nuclear energy– on a massive scale– the same way China did in order to protect itself from hostile foreign enemies.

    Small nuclear reactors would be inherently safe and could be located all over the country. They could be used for domestic electricity production and carbon neutral synfuel and industrial chemical production. And this would allow Iran to quickly transition from a fossil fuel economy to a carbon neutral synfuel economy. There's no need for Iran to initially develop a nuclear power building industry. Iran simply needs to order various types of small nuclear reactors from other countries like China and Russia to be deployed and built within Iran and then operated by local Iranians. Real power is scientific and economic power.

    Having so much commercial nuclear capacity would also make any attack on Iranian soil a potential threat to the regional environment. And such attacks by foreign enemies would be frowned on by the international community and could result in harsh economic sanctions against any Middle Eastern country that participated in such attacks.

    Iran should probably also order lots of floating nuclear reactors from Russia and China for the production of synfuels at sea.


  68. It may just be the first step. They need to get the fuel to power the reactors that can make the plutonium.
    I am guessing they have been blocked from just buying a reactor and fuel.

  69. I am not sure what we are accomplishing. If they are determined, it is just a matter of time before they get the bomb. Why antagonize the heck out of them, so when they do get it they are more eager to use it?
    I am not a fan of the payment stuff, as it encourages other countries to start programs so they can be paid to slow down too. And you end up with more countries with the bomb in the long run.
    It is hard to suggest a good approach. The best may be developing better defensive weapons that can prevent rockets from reaching their targets.
    The economic siege stuff just harms the poor. And leaders can always point to the outside and say all your problems are from them, not us. I admit, alternatives are limited.
    I wonder what would happen if we played the game honest and just produced a lot of oil and exported say 30 million barrels a day, and imported none and pushed down the price of oil. Maybe help Canada produce and export more as well.
    I think all the corrupt regimes that are propped up by oil would collapse.

  70. No one in their right mind makes nuclear bombs with enriched Uranium. Everyone uses Plutonium. And for that all you need are one and more small reactors and some nuclear fuel you can buy on the open market. Run the reactors for a while. Remove and chemically process the fuel rods and you have as much Plutonium as you want to make bomb. That is what North Korea and Israel did.

    Everything Iran is doing looks a lot a lot more like they are trying to build a lot of nuclear power stations, not nuclear bombs.

    It looks like its more Anti-Muslim propaganda than the truth.

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