One more year of taqiyya on the one hand, and UN naivete and quibbling on the other, and the Shia state will be prepared to usher in the mahdi — that is, Armageddon: “Iran could have ability to build nuclear bomb by 2010, study warns,” by David Blair for the Telegraph, January 27:
Iran will amass enough low-enriched uranium this year to have the ability to build a nuclear bomb by the end of 2010, a respected think tank has predicted.
The International Institute for Strategic Studies has said Iran is months away from crossing a vital threshold which could put it on course to build a weapon.
Mark Fitzpatrick, the senior fellow for non-proliferation at the IISS, said: “This year, it’s very likely that Iran will have produced enough low-enriched uranium which, if further enriched, could constitute enough fissile material for one nuclear weapon, if that is the route Iran so desires.”
Further enrichment to produce weapons-grade uranium would take at least 12 months after the threshold that Iran is likely to reach at the end of this year. Iran’s scientists will have to overcome numerous technical hurdles and fully master the enrichment of uranium before this can happen.
Iran is defying five United Nations Resolutions by enriching uranium inside an underground plant at Natanz. This process is highly sensitive because it amounts to “dual use” technology.
If uranium is enriched to four per cent purity — which Iran says is the only intention — it can be used to run nuclear power stations. If enriched above 87.5 per cent, however, the uranium reaches weapons-grade and becomes the essential material for a nuclear bomb.
Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are monitoring Iran’s plants, which remain under United Nations safeguards. Their latest report said that Iran was running 3,820 centrifuges — the machines used to enrich uranium — inside Natanz. So far, 630kg of low-enriched uranium had been produced.
Large quantities of low-grade material must be amassed before Iran will have the option of converting this into the high purity uranium needed for weapons. Mr Fitzpatrick believes that Iran will reach this point by 2009.
If the country goes to the next stage and chooses to produce weapons-grade uranium, however, it would have to expel the IAEA inspectors who presently monitor its plants. The international community would therefore have some warning before Iran reached the point of being able to build a bomb.
To have a proper weapons system, Iran would also need to build missiles capable of delivering a nuclear warhead. At present, Iran has Shahab-3 missiles with a range of about 1,250 miles. Documents in the hands of the IAEA suggest Iranian scientists have studied how to convert these weapons to carry nuclear warheads.
President Barack Obama has pledged to “engage” directly with Iran’s leaders and seek a diplomatic solution to the nuclear confrontation. During a television interview on Monday, he accused Iran of pursuing a “nuclear weapon” and sponsoring “terrorist organisations”.
But Mr Obama added: “I do think that it is important for us to be willing to talk to Iran, to express very clearly where our differences are, but where there are potential avenues for progress. And we will over the next several months be laying out our general framework and approach. And as I said during my inauguration speech, if countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us.”
Earlier this week, US ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said the Obama administration would engage in “direct diplomacy” with Iran.
But she said Iran must meet U N Security Council demands to suspend uranium enrichment before any talks on its nuclear program.