Friday, October 21, 2011

More reason not to get complacent re Iran

Iran's Nuclear Program: The Full Picture - J.E. Dyer
A widely referenced Washington Post story has got folks feeling complacent about Iran's nuclear program. The piece, crediting Stuxnet and sanctions, speaks of a "sharp decline" in the output of low-enriched uranium (LEU) at the Natanz enrichment facility, along with the aging and low-performing condition of Iran's original Pakistani-design centrifuge cascades. Meanwhile, sanctions have apparently made it impossible for Iran to import high-strength maraging steel, forcing the Iranians to manufacture their newest centrifuges from less reliable carbon fiber.
But one of the most important facts is that, according to the September 2011 IAEA report, Iran had - as of mid-August 2011 - piled up a total of 4,543 kg. of LEU. By Western intelligence estimates, that is enough for 4 nuclear warheads. While the efficiency of production has declined and the Iranians are now using more centrifuges to produce the same amount of LEU, between May and August 2011, Iran still produced enough LEU on an annualized basis for a nuclear warhead per year. The writer is a retired commander who served in U.S. Naval intelligence. (Hot Air)
See also UK: Iran Nuclear Issue to Grow More Urgent - Adrian Croft
Tackling Iran's nuclear program will become more urgent over the next year and the world must not be distracted from it by the focus on the Arab Spring popular uprisings, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Tuesday. This was because Iran had stepped up its nuclear work by increasing the fissile content of its enriched uranium to the 20% level and moving centrifuge machines to a previously secret underground bunker near Qom. (Reuters)
See also Iran's Nuclear Program Suffering New Setbacks, Diplomats and Experts Say - Joby Warrick (Washington Post)
See also Report: Iran Could Make Atom Bomb Material Despite Hurdles
Iran's nuclear program is struggling with low-performing enrichment machines but it would still be able to produce material that could be used for atomic bombs, according to a U.S. think tank. "Is the Iranian enrichment program on a trajectory toward being dedicated to producing weapon-grade uranium for nuclear weapons?" the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) asked and replied: "Unfortunately, despite its severe limitations, this program is able to do so." (Reuters)

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