Report: No Iran Nuke This Year - But Maybe Next Year
A Washington thinktank's new report says that Iran is not likely to move towards developing nuclear weapons – at least for the coming year. The report released Wednesday by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) says that Iran's uranium enrichment capability is limited, and was unable to grow sufficiently over the next year to allow Tehran to freely develop a nuclear bomb.
However, the report says, Western officials should not take too much comfort from this scenario – because it is unlikely to last. While it is true and important that there are no indications that Iran has made a decision to actually construct a nuclear weapon, such a statement does not accurately portray the real concern about Iran’s nuclear program and progress,” says the report, authored by a team headed by ISIS head David Albright, “Iran has already made a series of important decisions that would give it the ability to quickly make nuclear weapons.”
Iran's main thrust, according to the report, seems to be developing a system whereby it could quickly assemble a nuclear weapon when it wanted. Recent International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports indicate that this is indeed what Iran is doing. “If Iran’s ability to quickly build nuclear weapons increases during the next few years, this will only shorten the period of time between taking a decision to build a bomb and constructing one,” the report says.
The report says that it is not too late to halt, or at least regulate, the Iranian nuclear program, via diplomacy, sanctions, or other non-military means. But time is growing short: “Eschewing strengthened non-military options in the form of pressure and sanctions ignores this shortening timeline and makes it more likely that Iran will progress in its hedging strategy, augmenting the chance for armed conflict,” says the report. “As Iran’s timeline to nuclear weapons decreases, however, there is an inversely increased urgency to find this resolution. It is unwise to measure this level of urgency by relying on the fact that there remains no evidence that Iran has taken the last step to actually construct a nuclear explosive device.”
The West must take advantage of the fact that Iran is still hedging on making a final decision, the report adds. “Whether or not Iran will ultimately build nuclear weapons depends greatly on what is done now. Given Iran’s steady, albeit slow progress, downplaying the threat can end up serving to undermine the development of non-military methods to keep Iran from building nuclear weapons.”