Experts have confirmed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s warning that Iran can have enough enriched uranium next year to produce a nuclear bomb. The Prime Minister told the United Nations two weeks ago, "Ladies and gentlemen, I've been speaking about the need to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons for over 15 years…
“Iran is well into the second stage and by next spring it will have moved on to the final stage. From then it's just a few months or weeks until they have enough uranium to build a nuclear bomb."
Any doubts of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s dire predictions were removed by experts at the Institute for Science and International Security. Their new report released on Monday, quoted by AFP, warns that Iran could produce enough weapons-grade uranium to make an atomic bomb within two to four months and then would need only an additional eight to 10 months to build the device.
It concluded, “The most practical strategy to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons is to prevent it from accumulating sufficient nuclear explosive material."
The report stated that the United States and United Nations weapons inspectors would be able to detect any attempt at a "breakout" – but only for the moment.
It offers estimates on uranium stockpiles and enrichment rates based on figures from inspections of Iran's program by the UN watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
To amass the 25 kilograms of highly-enriched uranium needed for one nuclear weapon, Iran "would require at least 2-4 months," the report said. To reach that goal, Iran would have to draw on its uranium enriched to 3.5 percent as well as stocks of 20 percent enriched uranium.
Once Iran had generated enough highly-enriched uranium, it could take about eight to 10 months to construct a nuclear weapon, David Albright, a leading expert on Iran's nuclear project and one of the authors of the report, told AFP on Monday.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on September 11 that the United States would have about a year to take action if Iran decided to build a nuclear weapon.
The time needed for Iran to quit the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and "dash" or "break out" to make the bomb would give the United States and its allies time to react if necessary, the report said.
"Although Iran's breakout times are shortening, an Iranian breakout in the next year could not escape detection by the IAEA or the United States,” it added. However, Iran's expanding network of centrifuges could make it increasingly difficult for inspectors to spot Tehran's progress. "Iran may be seeking the ability to produce sufficient WGU (weapons grade uranium) faster than the IAEA inspectors could detect it," the authors wrote.
The United States is under pressure from Israel to set a precise deadline for military action but prefers for now to pursue a course of ever tighter sanctions to try to force Tehran to the negotiating table.
Once Iran possesses enough weapons-grade material for a bomb, it would be extremely difficult for UN monitors or outside countries to determine if Tehran had built a nuclear device, the report said.
"If Iran successfully produced enough WGU for a nuclear weapon, the ensuing weaponization process might not be detectable until Iran tested its nuclear device underground or otherwise revealed its acquisition of nuclear weapons," it said.
For Arutz Sheva's Mark Langfan's clear explanation of the enrichment process, click here.