Writing in Al-Monitor, Mark Fitzpatrick, an expert on Iran’s nuclear program, explains why the International Atomic Energy Associations’s new report on Iran isn’t good, but doesn’t amount to disaster either:
In a pre-emptive move of their own, White House officials gave their own spin to the latest developments several days before the IAEA released the report. While not underplaying their concern over Iran’s continued defiance, the Obama team noted that the new numbers are not a “game changer.” The new centrifuges are not (yet) being used for enrichment and the stockpile of 20% enriched uranium has not grown since May because half of it has been converted to an oxide form for use in fuel plates.
The danger posed by Iran’s nuclear program is heightening incrementally: The numbers grow arithmetically, not by orders of magnitude. In response to those advocating military action, one must ask how it is justifiable to launch a war, with all the predictable costs, over a 10% increase in centrifuge machines.
A proportionate response would be to incrementally increase the sanctions pressure on Iran. The EU, for example, is likely to tighten its sanctions against the Iran Central Bank, which to date have been partial. Additional companies associated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines may be subject to an asset freeze. The US also will likely impose sanctions on more Iranian institutions, adding to the designations announced on July 31.