David Ignatius reports some major news–that a respected nuclear energy journal published an article claiming that Iran’s processed uranium may have become contaminated during the enrichment process. This would mean that whatever nuclear materials Iran has processed would either have to be scrapped or reprocessed for it ever to be useful in manufacturing a weapon:
Iran’s supply of low-enriched uranium — the potential feedstock for nuclear bombs — appears to have certain “impurities” that “could cause centrifuges to fail” if the Iranians try to boost it to weapons grade.
…The Iranian nuclear program [may be] in much worse shape than most analysts had realized.
The money quote from the Nucleonics Week story is this:
If Iran’s uranium feedstock must be decontaminated before it is re-enriched . . . that would suggest that the breakout scenario in Iran does not pose a near-term threat…
Arms Control Wonk puts all this is perspective. He says that this development:
…Really does put a kink in rapid breakout scenarios.On the other hand, compared to the technical hurdles that the Iranians have already overcome, perfecting purification…doesn’t seem like a great challenge, and we should expect the [Iranians] to solve that one sooner or later, if they haven’t already.
In other words, all the Israeli spookery about an imminent Iranian bomb is overstated. Iran can’t even get the enrichment process right. But eventually they will. All this means that we have more time to resolve the overall issue of Iranian nuclear crisis than Israel would have us believe. But this contamination problem can be surmounted and eventually the world WILL have to negotiate a resolution with Iran. This should strengthen Obama’s hand and his chosen policy of constructive diplomatic engagement, while it will weaken the Israel lobby line that we must solve the problem now before it’s too late.