Iran Deal’s Premise is Wrong—They Likely Have a Bomb

By R. James Woolsey, William R. Graham, Henry Cooper, Fritz Ermarth, Peter Vincent Pry

CQ Roll Cal 

September 2015

President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran is not just a bad deal. It is the worst deal possible — because there is a good chance Iran already has a bomb.

The deal assumes Iran has no nuclear weapons, despite having a nuclear program for 65 years and crashing on a bomb for 25 years. Other states developed the bomb in three to 12 years, based on open source estimates:

The first atomic bombs — two different designs, took the U.S. three years (1942-45).

The USSR tested its first A-bomb in six years (1943-49).

The United Kingdom took 12 years (1940-52), slowed by politics and a bad economy.

France took four years (1956-60).

China took nine years (1955-64).

India took five years (1967-72).

South Africa took 10 to 12 years (1967-1977/79).

Pakistan tested for political reasons in 1998, but developed A-bombs much earlier (1972-1984) in 12 years.

North Korea tested in 2006, but developed an arsenal of bombs and missiles much earlier (1984-1992/94) in eight to 10 years.

That Iran should be so slow to develop the bomb strains credulity, especially since Russia and North Korea are helping them.

When Iranian dissidents exposed Iran’s clandestine nuclear weapons program in 2002, then-Deputy Chief of the Russian General Staff Yuri Baluyevsky declared: “Iran does have nuclear weapons. These are non- strategic nuclear weapons. ... As for the danger of Iran’s attack on the United States, the danger is zero.”

Baluyevsky’s knowledge about Iran’s clandestine nuclear weapons program, when that program was newly revealed to the West, has never been explained.

Although the International Atomic Energy Agency did not say so, its 2011 report not only proves that Iran has a nuclear weapons program — it is a “smoking gun” that Iran already has the bomb. Prior to 2003, Iran had all the knowledge and components needed to build the bomb.

More than 12 years ago, Iran:

Cast uranium hemispheres for a nuclear implosion weapon and verified the design with non-fissile explosive testing in a containment chamber. (During its World War II Manhattan Project, the U.S. was 16 months from the bomb at this stage.)

Developed and tested exploding bridgewire detonators, necessary to an implosion nuclear weapon. (The Manhattan Project was six months from the bomb at this stage.)

Manufactured neutron initiators used to start a fission chain-reaction in a nuclear weapon.

Drafted 14 different workable designs for a nuclear weapon to fit inside the re-entry vehicle for the high-explosive (HE) warhead of Iran’s Shahab-III medium-range missile. (Designing a nuclear weapon is a lot harder than changing the shape of a re-entry vehicle. Obviously, Iran sought to disguise the warhead as the HE warhead of the Shahab-III.)

Developed fusing systems for a nuclear missile warhead to perform a ground-burst or high-altitude burst above 3,000 meters. (The Congressional EMP Commission found that in 2002 Iran performed five fusing tests of the Shahab-III at high-altitudes — explicable only as practicing nuclear EMP attacks.)

Doesn’t Iran need a full-yield explosive test to prove its nuclear weapon? No, component testing is sufficient. The U.S. never tested the Hiroshima uranium bomb — Hiroshima was the test. (The 1945 test at Alamogordo was of a plutonium bomb used on Nagasaki.) North Korea, Pakistan and South Africa clandestinely developed nuclear weapons without testing, or years prior to testing. The U.S. has not tested since 1992.

The 2011 the IAEA report warns Iran is clandestinely pursuing uranium and plutonium pathways to the bomb in facilities inaccessible to the West — as they will remain under the nuclear deal with Iran.

Like President Bill Clinton’s nuclear deal with North Korea, which pretended Pyongyang’s clandestine nuclear weapons program was frozen, Obama’s nuclear deal will enable Iran clandestinely to build until a nuclear-armed terror state is irreversible.

Prudent policymakers should recognize Iran almost certainly has the bomb, probably nuclear warheads for the Shahab-III missile, and maybe for intercontinental delivery by satellite. Iran will not stop at a few nukes on the shelf. It aims for a nuclear missile force that is usable against its region, Europe and U.S. targets.

What to do?

Prohibit Iran from testing long-range missiles or orbiting satellites — assure our missile defense systems can shoot them down. Harden the electric grid and other critical infrastructures against nuclear EMP attack. Re-impose sanctions and support Iranian dissidents, a majority of the population, that are seeking regime change. Pursue policies and programs to demonstrate the U.S. is willing and able to use military options to disarm Iran. Strengthen sanctions and insist on compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Ambassador R. James Woolsey was director of Central Intelligence and is chairman of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies; Dr. William R. Graham was President Ronald Reagan’s science adviser, administrator of NASA and chairman of the Congressional EMP Commission; Ambassador Henry Cooper was director of the Strategic Defense Initiative and chief negotiator of the Defense and Space Talks with the USSR; Fritz Ermarth was chairman of the National Intelligence Council; Dr. Peter Vincent Pry is executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security, a congressional advisory board, and served in the EMP Commission, the Strategic Posture Commission, the House Armed Services Committee and the CIA.