Category Archives: Nuclear energy

Statement for the Record Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

Tehran has made technical progress in a number of areas—including uranium enrichment, nuclear reactors, and ballistic missiles—from which it could draw if it decided to build missile-deliverable nuclear weapons. These technical advancements strengthen our assessment that Iran has the scientific, technical, and industrial capacity to eventually produce nuclear weapons. This makes the central issue its political will to do so.

Of particular note, Iran has made progress during the past year by installing additional centrifuges at the Fuel Enrichment Plant, developing advanced centrifuge designs, and stockpiling more low-enriched uranium hexafluoride (LEUF6). These improvements have better positioned Iran to produce weapons grade uranium (WGU) using its declared facilities and uranium stockpiles, if it chooses to do so. Despite this progress, we assess that Iran would not be able to divert safeguarded material and produce enough WGU for a weapon before such activity would be discovered. Iran has also continued to work toward starting up the IR-40 Heavy Water Research Reactor near Arak.

We assess that if Iran fully implements the Joint Plan, it will temporarily halt the expansion of its enrichment program, eliminate its production and stockpile of 20-percent enriched uranium in a form suitable for further enrichment, and provide additional transparency into its existing and planned nuclear facilities. This transparency would provide earlier warning of a breakout using these facilities.

Read the full report:

2014 WWTA SFR_SSCI_29_Jan

Originally posted at:

Why we swoon for SWU

Or, how I learned to stop worrying about centrifuges and measure SWU

Ahead of the March deadline for an Iran Deal, international negotiators are back at the table in Vienna to hash out the fine print for an Iranian nuclear program. Undoubtedly, limiting uranium-enriching technology is at the heart of the debate.

Yet, before we further add to the noise of the conversation or rattle off another opinion on the matter, let’s discuss some critical details behind uranium enrichment! Already, you wonks and aficionados reading this article are probably familiar with the fundamental builds of centrifuges and cascades — centrifuges are cylindrical machines that are organized into rows of cascades, all while each centrifuge manages three basic flows: feed, product, and tails.

Taking a closer look at an individual centrifuge, the ‘feed’ that is initially delivered into the cascades consists of raw uranium hexaflouride (UF6). At the start of the cascade, the feed to each centrifuge will have close to ‘natural enrichment,’ meaning out of all the uranium atoms in the supplied UF6, only about 0.711% will be U-235 at this stage.

The enrichment process begins when the feed is introduced to the centrifuge, which then spins at incredible speeds (you spin me right round baby right round, like an Iranian IR-1 baby right round round round). Simply, the centripetal force during the spin phase slightly separates the U-238 and U-235 gradually. Following this, the centrifuge then filters U-235 and U-238 atoms into two separate flows. Only then does the tails flow contain a lower enrichment than the feed, because the process has separated out the U-235 atoms. Lastly, the product flow out of a centrifuge contains a higher enrichment — around 0.75% of U-235.

Some of you out there might be thinking, “that’s a long way from HEU, and even further from weapon’s grade material, yo.” Well, you are correct.

Certainly, one centrifuge would take forever and a day (yes, a scientific measure of time) to produce uranium enriched at 90%, but crafty engineers have since built the centrifuges in series, where the product of one centrifuge goes to another, and to another, and to another—getting a bit more enriched at every level to create a cascade. But obviously, centrifuges are not similar. The builds of earlier Iranian IR-1 centrifuges weren’t nearly as efficient at enriching uranium as modern IR-4s, yet were still better than sticking a bunch of uranium in a bucket on a rope and swinging it around as if you were practicing for the Olympic discus throw (we tried that here at StrategicSwag before agreeing we were better off using our strength to mix margaritas). This efficiency, or the centrifuge’s separative work required to separate any amount of uranium has its own measurement that needs to be considered.

This separative process is measured in SWU, or the separative factor (separative work units) required to achieve the enriched product. But, why is SWU so important? Perhaps because a more defining characteristic of SWU is that it allows us to measure enrichment potential per kilogram of uranium over a year within a cascade, which is much more important than nitpicking over a number of centrifuges. Essentially, the SWU figure can inform us of the efficiency or amount of “separation” the cascade is actually doing.

A simple analogy: we like to think of it in terms of pressing orange juice. If we use a particularly crummy machine and four oranges to make one glass of juice, that’s okay. Or, we can go out and buy a more efficient press that only requires two oranges to yield the same product — et voilà! You’ve got a healthy glass of ‘enriched’ orange juice, sans pulp.

In a broader scope, it may be hard to conceptualize how enriching uranium can be compared to pressing orange juice, so let’s return to a real-life example. Indeed, we’ve already established that different types of centrifuges vary in their SWU ability. According to the Institute for Science and International Security (the good ISIS), an Iranian IR-1 centrifuge provides about .75 to .9 SWU per year. So if we have a facility, say, the StrategicSwag Enrichment Plant with 10,000 IR-1 centrifuges, the output of SWU would fall between 7,500 to 9,000 SWU. Now, let’s pretend we also have the StrategicSwag Pilot Enrichment Plant (we aren’t very creative in naming our plants) that uses the Iranian IR-2m and IR-4 centrifuges, containing approximately 4–5 SWU with a mere 2,000 centrifuges. The reality is that this facility could optimally provide somewhere between 8,000 to 10,000 SWUs per year — rivaling that of our first fictional enrichment plant (which is still better than our bucket and rope). Yet, many ignore the difference during negotiations, instead focusing only on the number of centrifuges in the cascade.

Therefore, drastic reduction or limitation of centrifuge numbers doesn’t always correlate to its separative work capabilities. Even if a reduction of 10,000 out of 12,000 total centrifuges in any given facility is negotiated, this only corresponds to a reduction of about 50% in total separative work capacity if we eliminate all of the IR-1 centrifuges. With that, hopefully this more realistic example illustrates that SWU needs to be considered when brought to the negotiation table.

For the Iran case, it comes as no surprise that the Iranians seek to continue a program of about 10,000 centrifuges, enabling it to whip up nice amounts of enriched uranium, though could also be quickly ramped up for non-peaceful purposes. Previously, the West encouraged deep cuts in centrifuges, traditionally pushing for numbers below 4,000 to hedge against diversion. But, the lesson here is that it really isn’t all about the numbers, it’s about the ability of separation.

Now, you can now go enjoy a tall glass of freshly pressed orange juice with your breakfast (please don’t consume enriched uranium for breakfast) and if you happen to find yourself chatting with colleagues or office cat about Iranian centrifuges and SWUs, hopefully you can speak confidently knowing StrategicSwag has your back!


Written by: Marianne Nari Fisher (@MarianneFisher) & Cervando A. Bañuelos II (@NuclearFarmboy), originally posted at:

Trip Report: Paks Nuclear Power Plant

paks overview

On July 7 Atomic Reporters, with the support of Hungary’s IAEA mission, organized a full-day tour of the Paks Nuclear Power Plant (NPP). Eleven Vienna-based journalists representing news organizations from eight different countries took the four hour bus ride to the power plant.

We were greeted in the visitors’ center by Geza Pekarik, technical director at the NPP. He gave a tailored PowerPoint presentation that provided an overview of the facility, contextualized nuclear power in Hungary’s energy mix and discussed planned construction of two additional reactors.

After the talk, we walked to the plant entrance, where security met us. The guards were friendly and unobtrusive. They had already received our personal data and were prepared before we arrived on site. Once past the sparkling steel gate our group was taken by minivan to the enormous hall housing reactor units 3 and 4.

Entrance to Paks NPP. Photo by Andrei Zolotov
Entrance to Paks NPP. Photo by Andrei Zolotov

We saw the domes covering the two reactor vessels. One of the units had been under maintenance and some of the radiation-shielding equipment still was present in the hall. Surrounding the vessel were six hermetically-sealed lids that covered the reactor’s pumps and steam generators, or heat exchangers. Plant personnel pointed out the blue IAEA video cameras monitoring the facility. Two men in white jumpsuits and hardhats were working on the plant floor. Members of our group commented on how orderly and clean the facility looked amid the densely engineered web of tubes and machines.

Next stop was the control room. This is the place where visitors recognize they are inside a 40-year-old facility. Not many fancy graphical-user interfaces here. The four operators in the room sat before drab green control panels populated with buttons and switches. Pathways of colored lights were embedded in the walls. A digital monitor blinked real-time power fluctuations. “What a boring job,” remarked one journalist looking at the men behind the glass partition. “It makes covering the Iran talks seem exciting,” said another.

We were shepherded into a freight elevator and hardhats awaited us when we got out. This was the generator hall, the place where condensing steam rips through the turbines that supply Hungary with 51% of the electricity it produces. The noise and vibrations engulfed our party once we entered. Conversation inside was scarce. Exhilarating and a little bit scary to see how much power a measly 3.5% percent enriched uranium can release.

That marked the end of our power plant tour. Unbeknownst to us was that the best was yet to come.

We hopped back onto the minivan and drove a short stretch from the plant to a low-rise building. It was a newly-erected training center, home to a complete VVER reactor disassembled and transported to Paks from Poland. It had never been commissioned and was therefore safe to approach. Hungary uses the facility for maintenance and emergency training for its own plant personnel as well as future operators from nuclear-newcomer states. Walking into the building, we were struck by sharp smells of fresh paint.

Reactor vessel in Paks NPP training center. Photo by Andrei Zolotov

It is hard to understate the awe experienced when standing next to a pressure vessel. Twenty-three meters deep with a 3-meter-wide diameter, this was the alloy ingot built to contain a reactor’s fission energy. While some journalists stared into the vessel’s maw, others ventured down a steel stairway to examine the steam generator, where they could shimmy down a narrow shaft marked inside with control numbers. Still other reporters examined two-meter long fuel assemblies and began to understand the complex craftwork needed to safely power a reactor. There were valves as big as a person and bolts greater than a fist. While cognoscente that these were components of potentially-deadly business, the combination of physical and intellectual stimulation they provided reminded some among us of a well-designed and organized playground. The sense of danger and discovery were balanced.

Reporters examine VVER fuel assemblies at the Paks NPP training center. Photo by Andrei Zolotov
Reporters examine VVER fuel assemblies at the Paks NPP training center. Photo by Andrei Zolotov

Well over our budgeted time, the Atomic Reporters trip drew to an end. We were treated to Hungarian carp soup in the plant’s cafeteria. Later in the afternoon we received a presentation about Hungary’s long-term high-level waste disposal strategy. Even at that late hour — and with 340 kilometers separating us from home in Vienna — the questions continued unabated. It is not often that reporters hear tangible plans from countries intent on confronting and solving the nuclear waste issue.

This was Atomic Reporters first excursion to a nuclear facility. Based on the feedback given, it won’t be our last. Stay tuned.

[ UPDATE: To see the full presentation and additional images, visit the Hungarian IAEA mission’s website]

Guns or butter?

You would be hard-pressed to find common ground between Iran and the United States, but as Robert Kelley writes, both Markazi Province and South Carolina continue to grapple with the construction of government mandated, over budget and overdue fuel reactors:

Iran is facing increasing difficulties completing its IR-40 pressurized heavy water reactor (PHWR) near the town of Arak. Fortunately, Iran has agreed to suspend most construction work as part of a plan arranged with the EU3+3 negotiators. On the one hand, this means welcome cost savings for the Iranian Government. On the other hand, it could be an emergency for the local population.

Continue reading Guns or butter?

Koizumi Blasts Japanese Nuclear Village


The city news desk phone rang around noon on Nov. 12. It was picked up by a rookie reporter who joined The Asahi Shimbun last spring.

The caller said, “This is Junichiro Koizumi. Is Okubo-san in?”

Taken aback, the rookie told him haltingly that I was out chasing a story. “Then, please convey her my best regards and thanks for mentioning my statement in her column,” the former prime minister said, and hung up.

Two days before this call, I had written in this column about a damages suit brought against the Japanese government by Japanese settlers in the Dominican Republic, who claimed they had been lied to by the government.

Although the government won the lawsuit in 2006, Koizumi, who was prime minister at the time, issued a formal statement in which he apologized for the “immense suffering (of the settlers) due to the government’s response at the time.” This resulted in the government reversing its stance on the issue and paying compensation to the plaintiffs as well as non-plaintiff migrants.

I commented in my column, “Unless a politician gives directions, bureaucrats would not budge. That is the reality in Japan.”

I wonder if my words struck the right chord in Koizumi, who at the time was urging Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to end our country’s reliance on nuclear power generation.

Koizumi had turned down an interview request for my column. But after I sent him a letter thanking him for the phone call, Koizumi had a mutual acquaintance contact me and relay his invitation that the three of us get together for dinner.

“This is not an interview,” the acquaintance stressed, reminding me that Koizumi has not granted a single request for an interview or TV appearance since he stepped down as prime minister. But there was a question I just had to ask him, face to face. The question was, “Why have you become such a vocal opponent of nuclear power generation now?”

He was a staunch proponent of nuclear power generation while he was prime minister. His argument was that if our country is to curb carbon dioxide emissions, we cannot do away with nuclear power generation.


Greeting me jovially as he came to our table, Koizumi looked way more youthful than his 71 years. As soon as he was seated, he said, “I have a cousin living in Brazil, who’s had as hard a time as those settlers in the Dominican Republic did. We know the government told bold-faced lies to those people (who migrated to the Dominican Republic).”

When Koizumi made a state visit to Brazil in 2004, Japanese immigrants gave him such a warm welcome that he was overwhelmed with deep emotion, and broke down and cried. He recalled how he choked up when he thought of the feelings of those expats.

I felt convinced that Koizumi’s “defection” from the pro-nuke camp to the anti-nuke camp must also have been caused by some deeply emotional experience. So, I asked him, “What was the biggest reason for your change of heart?”

Looking me squarely in the eye, Koizumi launched into a voluble spiel.

“Denjiren (the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan) has been telling a pack of lies,” he began. “When experts say nuclear power generation is safe and doesn’t cost much and this is the only way to go if we want to stop relying on coal, well, we believe them. But they’ve been lying to us for years. And the point is, we’ve never really known anything about nuclear power generation. We had little interest in it before 3/11, and we certainly had no idea how difficult it is to control nuclear energy.”

“You felt you were taken for a ride?” I ventured. “That’s it. Exactly,” he replied.

Wow. So, he switched sides when he realized he had been deceived by bureaucrats and nuclear experts. I was reminded of victims of fraud. I then tried a number of times to get him to say something about victims of the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, but I struck out there.

Anyway, here was a man who held Japan’s highest political office for five and a half years, lamenting now–and openly admitting–that he’d been lied to.

When you think about it, Japan is really a dreadful country where critical information is deliberately withheld from the prime minister who determines the fate of the country, and even he is made to believe the “myth” of nuclear safety. I felt I could understand Koizumi’s defection as a person.


Koizumi’s “zero-nuke” statement gained national attention in late August, when Takao Yamada, a senior writer at The Mainichi Shimbun, mentioned it in his column.

Koizumi recalled, “That reminded me anew of the power of newspapers. I mean, I’d been saying the same thing in my twice- or three-times-a-month lecture meetings (before Yamada’s column came out), but my comments were completely ignored. The column must’ve made it impossible to ignore them anymore.”

Koizumi was quoted in Yamada’s column as saying, “In a battle, the most difficult part is the final phase, namely, the withdrawal … During the Second Sino-Japanese War, Japan should have pulled out of Manchuria, but couldn’t. In our present age, the business community says the Japanese economy can’t grow without nuclear power generation, but that’s not true. And back during the Sino-Japanese War, Manchuria was said to be Japan’s lifeline. But look at Japan now. We’ve grown and prospered without Manchuria, haven’t we?”

I asked writer Kazutoshi Hando, 83, an expert on the Showa Era (1926-1989), for his take on Koizumi’s “zero-nuke” remarks.

“I detest Koizumi,” Hando said. “When he was prime minister, I felt his political style was the same as Adolf Hitler’s before the Nazis seized power. That said, however, Koizumi’s zero-nuke remarks fully stand to reason, and I think his observation concerning Manchuria is right on the money.”

Hando went on to explain that after winning the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05), Japan sought to join the ranks of the great powers in order to protect the interests it had acquired through that war. As a result, the Korean Peninsula became Japan’s territory of interest, to protect which the Japanese government made Manchuria its “lifeline,” citing natural resources, population problems and other reasons for doing so.

“Seen in the light of modern history, perhaps nuclear power generation and Manchuria share the same meaning,” Hando noted. “In the past, holding on to Manchuria led to Japan’s doom. In the days ahead, holding on to nuclear power generation may lead to Japan’s doom.”

The dinner with Koizumi went on for nearly three hours, during which our conversation topics ranged from movies, books, golf and the theater. When it was time to say good-bye, I tried to present him with a bouquet of 30 red roses I’d brought. But he firmly and politely declined, saying it was his strict policy not to accept gifts.

When I told him I was going to write about our dinner meeting, Koizumi laughed, raised a hand in farewell, and left.


Maki Okubo is a senior staff writer of The Asahi Shimbun.

Nuclear Karachi

Originally published on, December 16, 2013

By A.H. Nayyar, Pervez Hoodbhoy and Zia Mian

WORK has started on preparing the site for two large nuclear power plants in Karachi. Each of these reactors will be larger than the combined power of all the nuclear reactors currently operating in Pakistan.

This will be by far the largest nuclear construction project ever in Pakistan. It is not too late to ask a few basic questions so that people, especially those living in Karachi, know what they may be letting themselves in for.

Everyone knows the new reactors are being purchased from China. They will be designed and built by the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC).

What people may not know is that the reactors will be based on a design known as the ACP-1000 that is still under development by this Chinese nuclear power company. In effect, Pakistanis are buying reactors for the Karachi site that so far exist only on paper and in computer programmes — there is no operating reactor in China based on this design.

It was reported in April 2013 that the CNNC, the developer of the ACP-1000, had completed a “preliminary safety analysis report”, and was “working on construction design”.

This means so far there is not even a complete design. Since the new Karachi reactors will be the first of a kind, no one knows how safe they will be or how well they will work. The 20 million people of Karachi are being used as subjects in a giant nuclear safety experiment.

The Fukushima nuclear accident has shown that safety systems can fail catastrophically. The accident in 2011 struck Japanese reactors of a well-established design that had been operating for decades. Still, all kinds of things happened that were not expected by the reactor operators or managers or by nuclear safety authorities.

An important lesson of Fukushima is that nuclear establishments underestimate the likelihood and severity of possible accidents. Another important lesson is that these same establishments overestimate their ability to cope with a real nuclear disaster.

At Fukushima, the nuclear authorities failed dismally despite Japan’s legendary organisational capability, technological sophistication and social discipline.

Nearly 200,000 people living close to the Fukushima reactors were evacuated and some may never be allowed to return. Radiation was blown by the wind and contaminated the land to distances of over 30 km.

The US suggested its citizens living in that area of Japan move at least 80km away from the reactor. The government of Japan considered forced evacuation of everyone living within 170km of the reactor site and organising voluntary evacuation for people living as far as 250km from the plant.

Contaminated food and water was found at distances of 250km.

The financial cost of the clean-up so far is estimated to be about $100 billion and could eventually be much higher.

So how big, how dangerous and how costly is the nuclear experiment about to be carried out in Karachi?

An analysis undertaken two years ago, in 2011, by the science magazine Nature and Columbia University in New York showed that the nuclear reactor site in Karachi has more people living within 30km than any other reactor site in the world.

It found that, in 2011, there were eight million Karachi citizens living within this distance of the reactor. All of Karachi falls within 40km of the reactor site.

So far, there have been no public hearings or discussions of the suitability of the site for the new Karachi reactors. There is no report of an Environment Impact Assessment for the proposed new Karachi reactors. Neither the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission nor the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority has explained what will happen in case of an accident at the proposed reactor.

A preliminary study by one of the authors found that the plume of radioactive material that could be released from a severe nuclear accident could be blown eastward by the wind over the city, engulfing the most populous areas of Karachi.

There is also no information on the terms for the supply of nuclear fuel, such as how long the very hot, intensely radioactive spent nuclear fuel will stay at the site and how will it be safely stored until it is returned to China, if it is returned at all. The spent fuel stored at Fukushima was damaged in the accident and led to the release of radioactivity.

Finally, there is no information on what emergency plans, including for possible evacuation, have been drawn up as part of preparing for these large new reactors. There is no information whether such plans even exist.

Here is a question for those in charge of Karachi, in charge of Sindh and the federal authorities in Islamabad: how do you propose to evacuate many millions of people from Karachi in case of a severe nuclear accident at the new reactors?

One expects mass panic, with people deciding to save themselves and their families as best as they could, clogging the roads, and delaying the escape of others closer to the reactor. Can any plan work in such an environment?

Finally, there is the cost in terms of money. Reports suggest the two reactors may cost $9-10 billion. They will be paid for by taking loans from China. There is little information on the details of the financing of the reactors, including the final cost of decommissioning and waste disposal.

There is not even a publicly available government study showing that these reactors are the least-cost option for producing the expected amount of electricity.

The issue of cost also must include the consequences of accidents. If there is an accident at the new Karachi reactors due to a problem with the reactor design or the construction, who will pay the vast sums needed to cover the damage and clean-up — Pakistan or China?

The people of Karachi have a right to know the answers to these questions. It is time they started asking.

The writers are physicists with an interest in nuclear issues.

In the news (October 1 – October 7 2013)

Japan’s unholy alliance

Up on Cripple Creek, she sends me

If I spring a leak, she mends me

I don’t have to speak, as she defends me

A drunkard’s dream if I ever did see one

The “she” in Robbie Robertson’s 1969 ballad “Up on Cripple Creek,” performed by The Band, was Bessie.

Japan’s nuclear village, represented among others by Keidanren, the voice of Japanese big business, has its own forgiving Bessie too, in the shape of Japan’s Ministry of Energy Trade and Industry (METI).

Atomic Reporters may take some salutary lessons in following the consequence of the accident at Fukushima Daichi; where there’s nuclear there’s usually a village and village life, well…it’s village life.

The latest announcement from Japan’s troubled nuclear village – is that Keidanren, supported by METI, has declared its intention to take the low road away from climate goals while nuclear power remains switched off. Keidanren is the name given to the Japan Federation of Economic Organizations.

And METI,  you may recall, was the ministry that controlled the  discredited Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) before it was reincarnated as the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), and may have more than its fair share of blame for the current misfortune. SimplyInfo, a crowd sources site carried this comment on METI’s competence from August 23.

See also Jeff Kingston’s latest review as to why 94 per cent of Japanese don’t believe the Fukushima disaster has been brought under control. Keep in mind, METI has been put in charge of the leaks springing from waste water tanks at the Fukushima site.

It’s not only in Japan that the nuclear village life has such national dominion. Reporters in newcomer states such as Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Turkey, Belarus, the UAE and others, would be well advised to heed the Japanese nuclear saga, and persistently challenge smiling faces.

This is how news media best fulfills its public function – not to cast any aspersions on Japan’s own news media, where some of the most dogged and critical journalism has been accomplished by local as well as national journalists. But Fukushima,  and before it Chernobyl, and before it, TMI, and Windscale – Mayak is not overlooked – all share a common denominator,  they were the consequence of cavalier behavior, of business  conducted out of critical public view and oversight.

Question: Is the irony well appreciated that an industry seeking to position itself as a rational low carbon alternative to fossil fuel power is willing to push for the abandonment of carbon emission targets, and how does this sit with the global nuclear village?

More from Fukushima

Tepco’s credibility is again under fire, as a U.S. researcher challenges the company’s statement that that the radioactive groundwater leaking out of Fukushima will only affect the coastline. In an interview with Bloomberg Ken Buesseler, a senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution who has conducted his own tests of Japanese waters called the Tepco’s claim that all irradiated water would remain  within 0.3 square kilometers of the bay “not true to the science” and “silly.”

Nuclear Industry

The Los Angeles Times reported last week that Walter Tamosaitis, a lifelong worker and senior scientist at URS Corp was fired on Thursday. URS operates the largest radioactive waste treatment facility in Hanford, Washington, and Tamosaitis was the man whose technical concerns about the $12.3-billion  plant’s design brought construction to a halt, so it’s no wonder that whistleblowing watchdog Hanford Challenge called it “another act of retribution against Walter Tamosaitis.”

The White House and Iran

Julie Pace, White House correspondent for AP, conducted an in-depth interview with US President Barack Obama on Saturday. The section that most interests Atomic Reporters comes about midway, when Pace asks him to comment on Iran.  Obama believes Rouhani represents a positive step for Iran and lets slip that America’s March estimation, that Iran is at least a year away from being able to even produce nuclear weapons, is the same as it was then.