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Estimate: Iran Could Produce a Nuclear Weapon Within 36 Days

Israeli experts: even after deal, Tehran capable of producing weapon within just over a month. US also OKs Iran to keep building Arak plant.
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 11/28/2013, 8:38 AM

Nuclear reactor (illustration)
Nuclear reactor (illustration)
Flash 90

Iran could be armed with a nuclear weapon within just over a month, Maariv reports Thursday. The report was forwarded to diplomats and international experts this week. 

Israeli experts have estimated that Tehran's schedule for nuclear enrichment has only been delayed for up to two weeks, according to the report, less than one week after a deal has been reached between Western powers and the Iranian government regarding the nuclear program.

The estimate may confirm Netanyahu's condemnation of the deal - which is an interim agreement which lifts economic sanctions for a slowing, but not stopping, of Iran's nuclear production - as a "historic mistake." 

The concern in Israel is that Iran will wait for an international crisis, or an internal crisis in the United States, as a prime opportunity to produce a nuclear bomb. The deal provides international support for Iran's nuclear program by allowing it to continue in any capacity - thus making the global community powerless to stop a nuclear Iran on legal grounds. 

The report states that Iran is likely to fire up their 18,000 centrifuges and produce a nuclear bomb in the event that the Islamic Republic sees the golden opportunity to do so - deal or no deal. A nuclear warhead would then be ready in as little as 36 days. 

According to the agreement, Iran will be forced to dilute about half of its uranium below the 20% enrichment rate, leaving the second half intact. The agreement also allows Iran to continue enriching the unenriched uranium left in their possession - about 8 tons - to the low rate of 3.5% enrichment. 

While these figures sound low to the uninitiated, experts claim that those enrichment rates are still enough to produce 5 nuclear warheads. Another problem: the Iranians do not have the resources to reduce their already-enriched uranium. 

Meanwhile, the US has declared their support for the Iranian to "continue building" their nuclear reactor in Arak. The support is based on terms which prevent Tehran from producing nuclear fuel, or using the heavy water reactor; however, these cannot be constantly monitored, experts claim. 

Arak has been a main point of contention between the powers in the context of the agreement; no final conclusion has been reached yet, according to Maariv. Earlier this month, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif stated that while he supports the deal, he will nonetheless continue to facilitate building of the Arak reactor. 

White House spokeswoman Jen Paski stated that Washington is unclear on what Zarif's intentions are, and emphasized that while building is permitted, producing nuclear warheads is not.