According to an article published in Thursday's New York Times, "Iran has now produced roughly enough nuclear material to make, with additional purification, a single atom bomb, according to nuclear experts." And from where do the experts get their information? The figures detailing Iran's progress were contained in a routine update on Wednesday from the International Atomic Energy Agency which concluded that as of early this month, Iran had made 630 kilograms of low-enriched uranium. However, all hope is not lost. First and foremost, Iran would have to further purify the uranium and form it into a warhead. The Times report said that this is "a technical advance that Western experts are unsure Iran has yet achieved." One must not forget that the enriched uranium is low-grade. For now, it can be used for nuclear power plants. However, it could be further refined. To do that, enrichment facilities at Natanz would have to go through major, visible reconfigurations. For example, all the piping infrastructure would have to be redone. This would make it very difficult for Iran to hide from the IAEA inspectors. Unless, that is, Iran has facilities the IAEA doesn't know about. And this is very possible. So where do we go from here? With Russia and China refusing to back further sanctions, all that remains diplomatically is for incoming President Barack Obama to try and use direct negotiations. Unless the Russians and Chinese participate, there is little else that can be done diplomatically. If talks fail, the US could also impose unilateral sanctions, the most powerful of which could be sanctions against the Iranian Central Bank (Bank Markazi). With falling oil prices and reports that Iran will face a $60 billion budget deficit next year, Ayatollah Khamenei may have to take negotiations seriously. Many have accused the Democrats of being too timid and too compromising. That isn't true; they're just more likely to give negotiations a serious chance before reaching for their guns. And if they do, they won't do it alone. Just ask Slobodan Milosevic. The writer is the co-author of "The Nuclear Sphinx of Tehran - Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the State of Iran," and runs the Middle East Economic and Political Analysis.