Jeffrey LewisDudes With Lightsabers, Redux

Nejama Zteh, go tell Obi Wan Kenobi that Darth Maul is attacking the centrifuge cascade!”

I don’t think this is ever going to get old, really.

Anyway, a few weeks back Bob Einhorn testified before Congress that Iran only operated its centrifuge cascade for “less than two weeks.” Now David Sanger and Bill Broad report something I heard but couldn’t share—less than two weeks meant 12 days:

Diplomats, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the topic’s political delicacy, say that Iranian engineers stopped pouring a raw form of uranium, called UF6, into arrays of centrifuges after just 12 days, even as the nation erupted in celebrations of the enrichment feat. The reports, which have now been widely circulated, say the Iranians kept the empty centrifuges spinning, as is standard practice because slowing the delicate machines can cause them to wobble and crash.

You may recall that a diplomat told AFP that Iran produced just “dozens of grams” of enriched uranium, noting that “if Iran had operated the 164-centrifuge cascade full-time for two weeks it would have produced two kilograms of enriched uranium …”

Yup, we can do the math: at 7 grams per hour for 288 hours (12 days), Iran should have been able to produce 2 kilograms.

The Iranian centrifuge operation appears quite inept: They still can’t produce their own uranium hexafluoride nor do their centrifuges do much better than 1.5 kg SWU/a. (And I forgot to mention Dafna Linzer’s story about some of the cascades crashing. )

Now it turns out the centrifuges spent most of the time spinning on empty and, according to a diplomat in the Sanger and Broad story, the Iranians have made little progress on installing additional cascades at the Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant.

It is looking increasingly like someone force-fed some Chinese hex in the cascade for a photo op. (Is Karl Rove consulting for Ahmadinejad?)

Hey, but nice lightsabers.


  1. hass (History)

    Funny: our media and the administration tend to exaggerate Iran’s nuclear capabilities when it suits their purposes of portraying Iran as an imminent threat; yet they like to play down Iran’s nuclear capability and deny the existence of any nuclear “facts on the ground” which would support an argument in favor of engaging in negotiations with the Iranians.

  2. hass (History)

    Incidentally, there are some interesting old articles about Iran’s nuclear program at – “Blast from the Past”