Q&A Friday #39: How Long Do We Have Until Iran Gets Nukes?

Question: “I read that the Shah’s grandson is trying to plan a new revolution in Iran. How long can the US afford to wait on Iranians to deal with the Mad Mullahs?” — Compiled

Answer: The truth is, at this point, the general public really has no way of knowing how long we have until the Iranians have nukes. Israeli sources are indicating that time is growing short, that we may have a year or less to go. On the other hand, as evidenced by this statement last month from John Negroponte, America’s intelligence agencies seem to believe we have much longer:

“According to the experts that I consult, achieving — getting 164 centrifuges to work is still a long way from having the capacity to manufacture sufficient fissile material for a nuclear weapon,” Negroponte said. “It could still be a matter of years. … In fact our assessment is that the prospects of an Iranian weapon are still a number of years off, and probably into the next decade.”

The problem is that US intelligence agencies often disagree amongst themselves and with foreign intelligence agencies and in any case, have never been very good at judging how far along nations are at developing WMD (See Iraq, North Korea, and India). So, in the end, we’re probably just going to be making educated guesses about how close Iran is to nukes.

Since that’s the case, the key thing to remember is that bombing Iran way, way, way too early in order to put their program back several years is better than hitting them one second too late, after they have nuclear weapons.

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