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One rogue leads another.Homer 

“We need not only an executive to make international law, but we need the military forces to enforce that law and the judicial system to bring the criminals to justice before they have the opportunity to build military forces that use these horrid weapons that rogue nations and movements can get hold of – germs and atomic weapons.” Walter Cronkite

In the end, for all of Obama’s grand rhetoric on ridding the world of nuclear weapons, history has doomed him to preside over the emergence of two rogue nuclear regimes (North Korea and Iran).” Thomas P.M. Barnett

Rogues are always found out in some way. Whoever is a wolf will act like a wolf, that is most certain.”  Jean de La Fontaine

This week in More than Meets the Eye, we will wrap up this three-part series on the negotiations currently in process for an international agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). As mentioned previously, it is an anti-proliferation nuclear weapons agreement between the P5+1 and Iran in an attempt to preempt the development of a nuclear weapons program by the Republic of Iran. 

Last week we unfolded the juxtaposition of Tehran’s public statements to the global community and its committed position internally to deduce if there exists any reason to believe that a new JCPOA will genuinely add to global security in any meaningful way. We explored the possibility that Tehran’s promises may once again prove to be simply a smokescreen as they seek for more time to develop the needed technology to find themselves nearer the top of the international food chain, especially as it relates to their role as a leader across the Islamic world.

We also reviewed Iran’s modern history of strategic goals, which ultimately seeks the destruction of Israel, a close US ally, its history of non-compliance to international verification, and its relentless pursuit of the Islamic metanarrative. It is a metanarrative that differs little from that of ISIS and al Qaeda.

As we close this series, it will be important to answer the questions, “Will Iran really comply with the restrictions placed on it by the international community?,” and secondly, “Will the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) be able to enforce a robust verification system that will keep Iran both honest and within the spirit of the JCPOA, namely, prevent it from developing nuclear weapons in exchange for access to global markets?”

There are other questions that will come up along the way, such as, “Is global marketplace participation a strong enough incentive for Iran to cease its nuclear development program?” In all three editions of this series I have maintained the tension that exists, even in the name “in less than eight minutes.” It is from a statement by an Iranian General, Ahmad Karimpour, a senior adviser to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp’s al-Quds Force, to an Iranian audience: “If the Supreme Leader’s orders [are] to be executed, with the abilities and the equipment at our disposal, we will raze the Zionist regime in less than eight minutes.” He made this statement during the same time frame that the Supreme Islamic leader in Iran, the Ayatollah, Ali Khameni, assured the global community that under no circumstances would Iran ever use nuclear weapons as a means to accomplish its military goals. He affirmed that Iran’s nuclear energy program was only for peaceful purposes.

Contradictory statements like this, close nuclear energy cooperation with North Korea, and continued support for global terrorism through funding of organizations such as Hezbollah…Can this leopard really change his spots? 


What is the heart of the issue for Iran and the rest of the world?

Iran insists its aims are for the peaceful use of nuclear technology, such as providing nuclear power – but its skeptics believe that Iran’s ambitions are to produce nuclear weapons. The heart of the issue is that the uranium isotope U-235 (which has three fewer neutrons per atom than the most common uranium isotope U-238) is necessary for both.

The hardest part of making a nuclear weapon is to produce a “critical mass” of either U-235 or the plutonium isotope Pu-239 in the right ratios:

  • In the case of uranium, U-235 must be enriched to a ratio of 80% or more
  • In the case of plutonium, the weapon must contain 97% or more Pu-239 compared to the contaminant isotope Pu-241.

Uranium enriched to 80% in U-235 or plutonium enriched to 97% in Pu-239 is called “weapons-grade” material. 

Iran’s number of installed centrifuges, low-enriched uranium (LEU) stockpile, LEU uranium-235 (u-235) concentration, and enrichment locations exceed JCPOA-mandated limits. Tehran is also conducting JCPOA-prohibited research and development (R&D), as well as centrifuge manufacturing, installation, and uranium metal production.

Iran’s skeptics do not have to look very hard to see that there may be some duplicity in its messaging to the world. Though its voice whispers to the world that they only want nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, their actions shout quite loudly something sinister.

The Iranians have been playing the “do and deny” game for decades, some would say centuries. It would be a fascinating study to look into the past and see just how this game has been used to win conflicts for millennia, not just by the Iranians (or Persians), but by all major powers throughout time immemorial. Should you have any doubts at this point that Iran is clearly on a path to obtaining a nuclear weapon and, thus, joining an elite club of superpowers, I will delineate a few ways in which the Iranians have demonstrated less than ingenuous actions. I have worked hard to keep the scientific language to a minimum so that it will be understandable by all. The following information has been gleaned from a Congressional Research Service report produced by the Federation of American Scientists. It is merely a cursory overview from a 156 page JCPOA document.

Operating Centrifuges

Under the JCPOA, Iran is to use only its commercial-scale facility at Natanz for enriching uranium. Tehran is to use no more than 5,060 IR-1 centrifuges for this purpose. Iran has retained these centrifuges and installed additional IR-1 centrifuges. Iran has also installed JCPOA- prohibited IR-2m and IR-4 centrifuges in the facility and is using all three types of centrifuges for enriching uranium. IR-4, IR-5, IR-6, and IR-8 centrifuges. Individual centrifuges are linked together in cascades for producing enriched uranium in quantity.

In addition, Iran is producing enriched uranium at Tehran’s pilot-scale and Fordow centrifuge facilities. The JCPOA prohibits any nuclear material in the latter facility, but Iran is using IR-1 centrifuges to enrich uranium there. Iran is also producing enriched uranium containing 20% u-235 in the facility using IR-6 centrifuges.

Enriched Uranium Limits

The JCPOA requires that Iran’s enriched uranium stockpile must not exceed 300 kilograms of uranium hexafluoride containing 3.67% u-235 “or the equivalent in other chemical forms.” This quantity of uranium hexafluoride “corresponds to 202.8 kg of uranium.” Iran has been producing uranium containing up to 5% u-235, up to 20% u-235, and up to 60% u-235. The IAEA estimates Tehran’s total LEU stockpile to be 2489.7 kilograms of uranium. Most of this uranium is in the form of uranium hexafluoride; the remainder is in other chemical forms. Exact amounts are extremely difficult to calculate due to the opaqueness of the Iranian government on verification. Grossi’s November 17 report states that the IAEA “has not been able to verify Iran’s total enriched uranium stockpile” since February 16.

Centrifuge Manufacturing

Iran has manufactured centrifuges for prohibited R&D activities and also manufactured centrifuge components using carbon fiber that have not received the required approval from the JCPOA-established Joint Commission.

Research and Development

The JCPOA permits R&D with uranium using only several specific types of centrifuges and allows Iran to operate only one test cascade containing a maximum of 10 IR-4 centrifuges.

Iran’s February 2021 decision to stop implementing some of the JCPOA “voluntary transparency measures” has impeded the IAEA’s ability to monitor Iran’s implementation of the agreement.

Iran’s Nuclear Program: Tehran’s Compliance with International Obligations

Iran’s current enrichment R&D activities include JCPOA-prohibited centrifuge types, locations, and configurations.

Uranium Metal

The JCPOA prohibits Iran from “producing or acquiring plutonium or uranium metals or their alloys” and “conducting R&D on plutonium or uranium (or their alloys) metallurgy, or casting, forming, or machining plutonium or uranium metal.” Producing uranium or plutonium metals is a key step in producing fissile material nuclear weapons. These prohibitions’ duration is 15 years. Iran has produced natural and enriched uranium metal.

Heavy Water

As noted, Iran’s stock of heavy water exceeded the JCPOA-required limit of 130 metric tons on two occasions since the P5+1 began implementing the agreement. Beginning in November 2019, IAEA reports have noted that Iran has on several additional occasions exceeded this limit. Since February 23, 2021, Iran has neither informed the IAEA about its heavy water inventory “nor allowed the Agency to monitor the quantities of Iran’s heavy water stocks and the amount of heavy water.”

All told, I have discovered no less than 136 verification and monitoring violations by the Iranian government over the past several decades. They simply do not seem serious about pursuing an honest deliberation over the matter of reducing their nuclear weapons capability. Instead, they seem determined to “do and deny”, stretching the timeline out until one day they will say, “We no longer need a JCPOA, we have everything we need to join the club of, currently, nine states which have built at least one nuclear weapon.” Those countries are the United States, Russia, France, China, the United Kingdom, Pakistan, India, Israel, and North Korea. With or without the JCPOA, Iran will soon be added to that elite group as the 10th.


As I write the “why” to this edition of More than Meets the Eye, there is indeed more than meets the eye and I want to set aside the duplicitous rhetoric of the Iranians and elaborate on the position of their actions for a moment.

Picture this…a big guy whom you really don’t like comes to you and says, “give me all of your weapons and promise me that you will never build another weapon for the next 10 to 15 years. If you do, I will give you all the ice cream you can eat for that entire time.” At first it seems like a really good idea. Then you realize they will only give you vanilla ice cream, when what you really want is Rocky Road. (OK, my analogy broke down as I started thinking about Rocky Road) My point is, once the Iranians started thinking about what they were giving up and what they were being promised in return didn’t satisfy their agenda. What they want most is not ice cream. What they want is power. They want the power to speak, and for people to listen, with the knowledge that if they don’t listen closely and obey, they could face the wrath of Iran in a way that only a few can unleash.

The Iranian government will not be satisfied with anything less than elite global status as a nuclear powerhouse, just like their nemesis Israel and the USA. The JCPOA, should it be agreed upon and signed, is little more than a delaying tactic in Iran’s “do and deny” strategy. They are simply not in a hurry. They will wait it out if they think it is in their best interest. 

Their ultimate goals are to gain back global favor by appearing to be a compliant international neighbor, shed all sanctions against them which are destroying their economic wealth, build a nuclear energy program, grow a nuclear weapons program right under the noses of UN’s IAEA inspectors, destroy Israel, reinstate Palestinians to Israel, reestablish their role as an Islamic leadership state, reinstate a Caliphate, which of course will be led by a powerful religious leader called an Ayatollah. 


Pay close attention to what is about to happen. There is strong pressure for The P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) to get a signed deal with Iran. Many global players are willing to accept anything, considering it better than nothing. There is an existential naïveté at play that will leave the world in serious chaos in the future should this deal go through. It is a flawed agreement on many levels.

If the United Nations believes strongly enough that Iran should not be entrusted with potentially global altering technology, then it should come up with a solution that will eventually cause Iranian leadership to fold and submit to those constraints. As it is, the P5+1 JCPOA agreement is little more than a smoke screen designed to make everybody feel better about doing something without stirring up possible hostility. 

If the UN or the global community believes it has the mandate to prevent a rogue state from becoming a potential threat to the world (and I am not saying that it should or shouldn’t), then it should come up with a real solution rather than a pretend one.

The follow-up.

NATO Membership for Sweden Would Be ‘A Small Step For The Military, But A Giant Leap For The Political System’…

The Islamic State vs. the Jewish State: How the Caliphate Views Israel…

The feed-back.

For your comments or questions about any of our digests please feel free to write to me at:


“Iran TV halts 2 polls on nuke activities, Hormuz closure after voting came against Ahmadinejad”. Al Arabiya. 6 July 2012.

Rosenthal, Max (6 July 2012). “Iran Nuclear Program Should Be Abandoned, State TV Viewers Say”.

“Iranians want end to sanctions, short-lived poll finds”. The Los Angeles Times. 4 July 2012.

“حرمت سلاح کشتار جمعی (Hormah [being forbidden] of weapons of mass destruction)”. Official Website of Ayatollah Khamenei–Fatwas Section.


Stefon, M. (2016, April 17). taqiyyah. Encyclopedia Britannica.

“Iran Starts Enriching with Advanced Machines at Fordow During Deal Talks,” Reuters, December 1, 2021; “Iran’s Envoy: IAEA Report a Regular Technical Document,” Islamic Republic News Agency, December 1, 2021.

Unless otherwise noted, this appendix is based on IAEA reports and the JCPOA text.

Iran’s February 2021 decision to stop implementing some of the JCPOA “voluntary transparency measures” has impeded the IAEA’s ability to monitor Iran’s implementation of the agreement. 

© 2019 • More Than Meets