Jeffrey LewisMore on Iran's "Big [Hairy] Gains" At Natanz

More cautious assessments on Iran’s progress, from the Los Angeles Times’ Bob Drogin and the Associated Press’ William Kole.

Both carry balanced, sensible comments by David Albright:

“Iran’s been making slow but steady progress,” [Albright] told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “We think Iran has been moving faster than (the U.S. government) has anticipated.”


Albright cautioned against concluding that Iran is on the verge of producing an atomic weapon, saying 2009 is the “worst-case scenario” for it to have developed a single warhead.

“Our own assessment has been that they’ve learned to operate a centrifuge over the last six months. What they haven’t done is shown that they know how to operate 1,000 centrifuges,” he said.

Centrifuges, which spin at high speeds to make nuclear fuel, are tricky to operate and are subject to breakdown, Albright added, contending Iran “isn’t out of the woods yet.”

As to whether Iran is out of the woods or not, Drogin’s story suggests that the assembled cascades at Natanz are not all enriching uranium, despite what David Sanger reported: “IAEA inspectors who visited Natanz last weekend found about 1,300 centrifuges in operation, although not all were loaded with the uranium gas necessary for enrichment.”

That would also suggest, to me at least, that they aren’t linked in a single unit.

On a related note, Mark Heinrich’s new Reuters story describes ElBaradei’s remarks as “published by the New York Times and confirmed by an IAEA official.” In his previous story, he called them “remarks released by the IAEA.”


  1. Haninah (History)

    A question about “confirmed by an IAEA official” – if the comment was taken significantly out of context by the Times, as you claimed in your last post, would the IAEA “confirm” it? Does “confirming” mean simply that they said “the DG said those words in that order at some point,” or does it mean they stand by the comments as attributed in the news report?

  2. Jeffrey Lewis (History)

    I believe that “confirmed” means “He said those words.”

    As I noted in my newest post, it is my understanding that he was not commenting on the short notice inspection.