Beware of an Iranian Atomic "Sneak-Out"

(National Interest) James M. Acton - While America's strategy for preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons involves blocking the use of declared facilities that are inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency - the much-discussed "breakout" scenario - if Tehran goes nuclear it will almost certainly be more surreptitious and build a secret, parallel program dedicated to military ends. The U.S. should, therefore, aim to negotiate measures to prevent "sneak-out." One critical lesson from history is that would-be proliferators try to sneak out; they don't breakout. Six countries have been found by the IAEA to have violated their nonproliferation commitments: Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Libya, Romania and Syria. Each of these states was guilty of clandestinely conducting nuclear activities that it was legally obliged to report. None made a brazen attempt to divert declared nuclear material that was under the watchful eyes of international inspectors. Iran's focus on sneak-out is entirely rational; the IAEA is just too good at monitoring what's declared. By contrast, detecting secret enrichment facilities is more difficult. The writer is a senior associate in the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.

2014-11-06 00:00:00

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