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‘Clear as day’ Iran would enrich after nuclear deal says ‘optimistic’ former U.S. official

November 20th, 2013
02:37 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

It’s “as clear as day” that under any nuclear deal, Iran will continue to enrich fissile material, the former U.S. official on non-proliferation Mark Fitzpatrick told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday.

“There’s going to be some enrichment at the end of the day of any deal that’s done,” Fitzpatrick said. “Iran is just simply not going to capitulate no matter how many sanctions they face.”

Though the details of on-going nuclear talks between Iran and world powers are scarce, most agree that a deal would include the temporary removal of some economic sanctions in exchange for assurances that Iran is not seeking nuclear weapons – though the country would likely still be allowed to enrich uranium for civilian and research use.

Though the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty – to which Iran is signatory – allows for nuclear enrichment, numerous U.N. Security Council resolutions have called on Iran to halt all enrichment activity.

Fitzpatrick said he is “unusually optimistic” that the pieces are in place for a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

“It’s only an interim deal for six months – it won’t solve the problems that either side has,” Mark Fitzpatrick, Former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Non-Proliferation, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “But it will be enough to cap the program and to build some confidence toward a longer-term settlement.”

Nuclear talks continue in Geneva even as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the deal “exceedingly bad.”

Critics fear that even with a deal, Iran will retain a so-called breakout capability – the potential to flick a switch at any given point and have a bomb within some short amount of time.

“I don’t think that any degree of verification can provide 100 per cent assurance that Iran won’t be able to build a nuclear weapon secretly. But what this interim deal will do will be to double the time that it would take Iran to make a dash for it.”

He said he believes it would take Iran “near to a year” to produce a nuclear weapon, admitted that some calculations are less than that, “maybe a month and a half to be where Iran would be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for one nuclear weapon.”

This potential deal, he said, “would at least double that time.”

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Iran • Latest Episode
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. sasss31

    Take out the Mullahs. Until we do so, the threats posed to humanity by the Islamofascist terror regime of the Islamic Republic will not only remain but will only get exponentially worse. History has taught us that evil regimes must be defeated and not appeased. And this is certainly true of a regime that stones women to death and hangs gays.

    November 20, 2013 at 2:42 pm | Reply
    • Smith

      I do agree. I'm wondering why USA afraid of this dictator extremist regime? more sanctions will collapse the mullah regime.

      November 20, 2013 at 8:31 pm | Reply
    • scrut

      Iran has the right to enrich nuclear material and to maintain a non-military nuclear program. And according to the United Nations experts, there are no signs of a military dimension of their nuclear program.
      The United States has caused more death, suffering and wars than Iran and all of the surrounding nations. So if you talk about taking out threats to humanity, start there.

      November 21, 2013 at 8:38 am | Reply

        Calm down ... by telling the truth you will just upset people.

        November 21, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
      • dcmortimer

        A country that threatens their Neighbors with annihilation does not have the right to have Nuclear war heads.

        November 22, 2013 at 9:44 am |
      • Assaf Avizohar

        What does Iran need The 2000 km range missiles if not to throw bombs.
        Why to enrich for 20% if all what you need is 3.5%.
        they do not need that ambitious mufti parallel efforts if their goal is peace.

        November 23, 2013 at 10:29 am |
      • scrut

        >>A country that threatens their Neighbors with annihilation does not have the right to have Nuclear war heads.

        The USA and Israel have threatened more nations with war, military action and "pre-emptive" strikes than most other nations. Both have nukes. So based on your statement, these nations must get rid of their nuclear warheads. I second that motion, btw.

        Iran has no nukes – and says it does not want any. According to the UN, there is no evidence whatsoever that Iran is having a military nuklear program.

        November 25, 2013 at 6:29 am |
    • H. B.

      The real problem is the one not really talked about: Isl-am.

      It is ancient wisdom that if you form an opinion based on false assumptions, you will ALWAYS be in error.

      The false assumption here is that Isl-am is peaceful and tolerant, when everything about it proclaims it to be the opposite. This is true, regardless of sect. Deeper study of it, from its OWN revered texts, only confirms that. The sects don't disagree about the two holy books, Quran and Hadith. Their schism took place only AFTER their leader died. The one issue was who his successor should be, and the result was a geno-cidal bloo-dfeud that has raged for 1400 years. But it has no effect on the issue of Iran and its nukes.

      But we still rely on that assumption. And base our opinions, our plans and our actions upon it.

      Which is why it always goes wrong.

      And yet we still refuse to reconsider the assumption. And that's simply inane.

      If you are negotiating with Iran about nukes, and your base assumption is that Isl-am is peaceful and tolerant, you may draw the conclusion that the regime's rel-igious leaders are "radicals," or somehow NOT truly Mu-slims. Then we try to deal with them in that context. But the context, being based on a false assumption that is ALSO based on another false assumption, is also in error. So things STILL go wrong.

      If we were dealing with Iran in the correct context, the context of Shi'a Isl-am as it really IS, we could plan better, and our execution of those plans would achieve a more predictable result.

      I don't think there's time to rise above our false assumptions. Therefore, Iran WILL get the bomb.

      If it doesn't already have it.

      November 22, 2013 at 4:36 pm | Reply
  2. Ron

    Give them a bomb for Six months and get rid of trouble! all Red lines also will be erased! big victory for Kerry!

    November 20, 2013 at 8:27 pm | Reply
  3. Harris

    They didn't permit to the united nation to visit the political prisons!
    How they allow to visit their new expanded under ground tunnels in atomic site of Mubarakeh city?
    How you can trust them?!

    November 20, 2013 at 8:37 pm | Reply
  4. Jim

    The supreme leader of Iran that is reachest person in Iran with over 100 billions dollar wealth, named Israeal a sick mad dog!! today in his speech with his military! He wanted bomb and waving sanctions asap!

    November 20, 2013 at 9:07 pm | Reply
  5. jimmy lim

    Iran is the biggest threat to regional n world peace. Iran is a snake bigger than Anaconda and should never be trusted. Period. To have a deal with Iran is a big mistake

    November 20, 2013 at 9:40 pm | Reply
    • Mike

      If by Iran you mean Iranians you are mistaken. As an Iranian who lives in Iran I assure that MINIMUM 90% are against Khamenei and his crazy killers. I think there shouldn't be any compromise with Iran. Increase the sanctions and force silent majority to come to the streets throughout Iran and remove the criminal mullahs from power.

      November 21, 2013 at 8:50 am | Reply
  6. jimmy lim

    This deal if there is one will only allow Iran to have the cake and eat it too

    November 20, 2013 at 9:48 pm | Reply
  7. Tom

    Under NPT treaty, Iran has the right to enrich Uranium. This is clear as a day. Whatever is Iran trying to say is this. If the US has a problem with it, then they have to change the NPT treaty, not depriving Iran from its right.

    November 20, 2013 at 10:12 pm | Reply
    • Mike

      I'm afraid you don't see the truth. Khamenei is after an atomic bomb for several reasons, the most important one to remain in power. Dealing with the regime is the only solution but it should happen from inside Iran. No foreign intervention will do the job. Iran is not Iraq or Afghanistan. There are 6,000,000 university graduates in Iran and majority of them under 35 years old. They demand a decent life and sooner or later force the regime to yield in.

      November 21, 2013 at 8:54 am | Reply
      • scrut

        Please provide credible proof for your claim that Iran seeks a nuke. Just one, thank you.

        November 22, 2013 at 8:07 am |
  8. obladioblada

    Jesus said "Let the man who has not sinned throw the first stone"
    First nuclear powers dispossess their own nuke bombs , every single one , before accusing a developing country of transgression.
    The rest of the world is fed up with these so called advanced nations with double standards.
    But they should remember inequality leads to destruction , sooner or later.
    America is only the statue with feet of clay.
    Time will be soon up.

    November 21, 2013 at 12:57 am | Reply
    • scrut

      well said

      November 21, 2013 at 8:39 am | Reply
  9. Frank Valley

    “Iran is just simply not going to capitulate no matter how many sanctions they face.”


    WHY won't they capitulate? Nobody is answering that question, because it opens cans of worms no one in public office can stomach.

    November 21, 2013 at 8:44 am | Reply
    • aurelius

      Would we capitulate about anything? So why should they?

      November 21, 2013 at 9:26 am | Reply
  10. bill o'rights

    People need to wake up and look at the Obama administration's silent, stealthy partner. Qatar has been acting in parallel and in concert with the Obama administration.

    The Obama administration doesn't want to attack Iran. That is the LAST thing they want. On the other hand, their interest in Iran is not as is being portrayed.

    The al-Thanis have been helping the Iranians fight the Hezb, and have struck up a number of military contracts and LNG deals with the Iranians.


    Don't forget, it was Qatar who recommended to the administration that they initiate talks with Iran.

    And, consider who these people are:


    They host the Taliban, fund al Quaeda and tipped off Khalid Sheik Mohammed. And, unfortunately, U.S. CENTCOM's Forward Operating base is there.

    Take a look at a map of Iran, and the countries that border it.

    Consider the Qatari's objectives in Afghanistan and Pakistan, while they help Iran fight the Hezb, yet host the Taliban in Doha.

    Consider, also, that for some strange reason, everywhere the Qataris go, the region quickly develops a horrendous drug problem.

    Libya? Egypt? I think it's safe to say that Qatar is profiting very nicely in Iraq as well.

    Any wonder why the Qataris are financing a third international airport in Istanbul, purchased a massive fleet of 777s and 787s from Boeing and just gifted $100 million to Mexico, in order to 'promote Mexican tourism'?

    And, between Qatar's hosting of the Taliban in Doha, their relationship with Erdogan and their buddy Dawood Ibrihim in Pakistan/India, I'd say it's pretty obvious that they have their sights on Iran.

    Don't forget Qatar's participation in the 'Arab Spring'. They were so arrogant, they even painted their flag on the sides of the armored vehicles they provided the rebels with in Egypt and Libya:


    Everyone is stuck in this 1990s mentality, and assumes that the Middle Eastern economy is dominated by petro-dollars.

    It ain't petro-dollars any more. It's LNG and, more importantly, drugs...the NEW currency of the Middle East.

    November 21, 2013 at 10:57 am | Reply

    "Though the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty – to which Iran is a signatory (and Israel is NOT) – allows for nuclear enrichment, numerous U.N. Security Council resolutions have called on Iran to halt all enrichment activity."

    Am I the only one who sees something wrong with the above statement? Iran is following the NPT rules and regulations ... BUT THAT'S NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

    What about the following UN Resolutions against Israel. UNSC Res – 57, 89, 93, 100, 101, 106, 111, 119, 171, 228, 237, 242, 248, 250, 251, 252, 256, 259, 262, 265, 267, 270, 271, 279, 280, 285, 298, 313, 316, 317, 332, 337, 347, 425, 427, 446, 450, 452, 465, 467, 468, 469, 471, 476, 478, 484, 487, 497, 501, 509, 515, 517, 518, 520, 521, 573, 592, 605, 607, 608, 611, 636, 641, 672, 673, 681, 694, 726, 799, 904, 1073, 1322, 1402, 1403, 1405, 1435, 1544, 1701, 1860.

    These relate to Israel’s violations of international law, UN Charter, Geneva Conventions and for acts of international terrorism and we all know Israel has told the UN to "STUFF-IT" when it comes to their Nuclear Program. I refuse to be a part of this hypocrisy!

    November 21, 2013 at 6:29 pm | Reply
  12. scrut

    @Assaf Avizohar

    >>What does Iran need The 2000 km range missiles if not to throw bombs.

    Probably to defend itself. Besides, such medium-range missiles can carry conventional weapons, too. Using the existence of Shahab as "proof" of a military nuclear program is nonsense.

    >>Why to enrich for 20% if all what you need is 3.5%.

    Light water reactors need 3-5%, yes. But the low enriched uranium used in research reactors is enriched to 20%.
    And yes, that is still considered "low enriched" because for weapon grade nuclear material you have to get to over 90%.
    So there is plenty of reason for Iran to enrich at least some of its Uranium to 20% without any military dimension of the program. That is, by the way, also the opinion of the expert group of the United Nations.

    November 25, 2013 at 6:37 am | Reply
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