To assess the impact of the accord that the United States and its partners reached with Iran on Thursday, it is useful to start with five bottom lines. To what questions are 15,000, 12,000, 10, 5, and 0 the answers?
- 15,000 is the number of pounds of low-enriched uranium that would be neutralized.
- 12,000 is the number of centrifuges that would be decommissioned.
- 10 is the number of months by which Iran’s “breakout” timeline to a bomb would be extended.
- 5 is the number of bombs’ worth of low-enriched uranium that would be neutralized.
- 0 is the number of bombs’ worth of plutonium that Iran would be able to produce.
Of course, the framework accord still has to be translated into a more specific, binding agreement. And even more important, assuming that is done, the agreement has to be implemented. But if this happens, a state that currently has seven bombs’ worth of enriched uranium and 19,000 centrifuges, and is six weeks away from breaking out to produce the core of a bomb, will have been pushed back materially on each of these fronts. Moreover, the route to a bomb using plutonium rather than uranium, which Iran has pursued for over a decade at its Arak facility, will have been abandoned.