It is a serious mistake to allow Khamenei and his Revolutionary Guards, who oversee terrorist operations and the nuclear program, any domestic enrichment capacity. This was the position of the Obama administration and our Western European allies. Now that consensus has apparently collapsed because Iranian agreement seems impossible.
Khamenei’s determination to keep advancing uranium enrichment despite increasingly severe sanctions has paid off. Tehran has enough low-grade, 3.5%-enriched uranium stockpiled to produce at least one, soon two, nuclear weapons. It also has a 163-pound stockpile of 20% enriched uranium. As Oli Heinonen, the former deputy director general of the IAEA, has pointed out, mastering 3.5% enrichment is 70% of the way to mastering the fuel cycle for an atomic weapon. 20% enrichment is 90% of the process.
An astonishing number of intelligent people in America and Europe appear to believe that Khamenei’s fatwa about the „sinfulness“ of nuclear weapons is significant, that it isn’t just ketman, deception deployed against a stronger enemy. Exposing Khamenei’s flagrant mendacity, for both Iranians and foreigners, is not without value and would again refocus the discussion on the real question: Is it acceptable for Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards to have nuclear weapons?