The Barack Obama administration has estimated for years that Iran was at most three months away from enriching enough nuclear fuel for an atomic bomb. But the administration only declassified this estimate at the beginning of the month, just in time for the White House to make the case for its Iran deal to Congress and the public.
The Obama administration has already lied about the evidence of Iran's nuclear posture to further its objective, but we're supposed to believe that it won't lie about evidence of Iran's nuclear posture in deference to its objectives if Iran cheats on a new deal.
These estimates do harm, however. After more than a decade of such estimates, people could rationally wonder why a new estimate should be believed when past estimates were wrong (since Iran does not have a bomb now, to the best of our knowledge).
The problem is that these estimates are worst-case scenarios that assume everything going forward works.
It also neglects that Iran manipulates one major factor in this type of assessment--their stockpile of partially enriched Uranium. By keeping it low by using it or diluting it or otherwise putting it out of reach, the Iranians advance their ability to make nukes while on paper remaining X amount of time away from a bomb even 60X amount of time later.
In a blast from the past, let's recall that 2007 CIA national intelligence estimate that was wrongly portrayed by the media as showing that Iran had halted their nuclear weapons work.
The estimate was walked back, but only after the chance that Bush might have done something about Iran was crippled.
So never mind again. Iran is several months away--by our estimates and not Iran's estimate, I'll add--if they put their mind to deploying a nuclear weapon from their own resources.
But given that Iran has been some short period of time from getting nukes for over a decade--at least--the Obama administration spin that their proto-deal will improve the situation by putting Iran a year from a bomb (again, by our estimate) for a decade is an improvement is nonsense.
It ignores that the time-to-nukes estimate isn't a physical limit but a political limit by Iran and it ignores that it is our estimate.
And it ignores the question of whether we'd ever call Iran on violations. Tell me you can't imagine Kerry telling us that the evidence for violation is too thin and would we really want to abandon that "one-year" path and go back to the bad old days of April 2015 when Iran was three months from nukes?
Have a super sparkly day.
UPDATE: Related from The Wall Street Journal. It really is amazing how much we've retreated from past demands for Iran to reassure us that they are not developing nuclear missiles.
I like to think I'm an optimist. But not even I can believe that all this stuff means there must be a unicorn pony somewhere around here.