A U.S.-based think tank said Tuesday that Iran is one to three years away from developing a simple nuclear device, but thought it would take the Persian regime six to eight years to develop a feasible nuclear warhead and missile delivery system. Unless Iran receives outside help, it would need 10-15 years to produce an intercontinental ballistic missile, according to the EastWest Institute.

The think tank brought together six U.S. nuclear experts and six Russian experts to formulate the report. It said it had presented its conclusions to U.S. National Security Advisor General James Jones and Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev in February.

The scientists claimed that Iran, as of February, had produced 1,010 kilograms of low-enriched uranium, enough for a simple nuclear device if it would be further enriched. However, to do so, Iran would have to expel International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors, after which it would still take one to three years to develop the device, and as much as another five years “to produce a nuclear warhead that could be delivered by existing and future Iranian ballistic missiles.”

According to the report, Iran currently possesses weaponry with a missile range of around 1,000 kilometers and would need another six to eight years to double that range to 2,000 kilometers. Iran would need 10-15 years, or outside help from the U.S., Europe, Russia, or China to develop a long-range intercontinental missile.

EastWest primarily assessed the need for a U.S. missile defense system based in eastern Europe. Former President George W. Bush had proposed stationing a missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland, but Russia strongly objected to the idea.

The report claimed that such a system is unnecessary and would likely be ineffective, and offered the recommendation that Russia and the U.S. “work closely together to seek, by diplomatic and political means, a resolution of the crisis surrounding the Iranian nuclear program.

Iran Less Potent Than Thought, U.S. Should Focus on Sanctions

A separate report prepared by the Rand Corporation for the U.S. Air Force, also released Tuesday, said that Iran is a less potent foe than commonly thought and urged the U.S. to work together with other international powers to contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

The report claimed Iran’s military is poorly maintained and has outdated equipment and personnel shortages. It also says that the Tehran regime maintains less control over Hizbullah and Hamas than popularly believed.

The Rand report said officials should focus on Iran’s actions, not rhetoric. “Its revolutionary ideology has certainly featured prominently in the rhetoric of its officials,” the report states. “However the record of Iranian actions suggests that these views should be more accurately regarded as the vocabulary of Iranian foreign policy rather than its determinant.”

The think tank also said that the U.S. should move away from unilateral efforts to engage Iran and focus on a broad international effort of sanctions depending on Iran’s actions, suggesting Washington should leverage “international pressure while unilaterally de-escalating U.S. rhetoric and policy toward Iran.”

Iran Blames Russia for Holding up Nuclear Plant Construction

Meanwhile, Iran blamed Russia on Tuesday for holding up construction at the Bushehr nuclear power plant in the southern part of the country.

“The Russian side has not met its commitments the way it has been expected to,” Iranian nuclear chief Hamid Reza Katouzian said. “If Russia seeks to remain an active economic partner of Iran, it should complete the construction of the Bushehr plant.”

Russia has been helping Iran with the plant’s construction since 1995 but claims that delays are due to “sanctions imposed by Western powers.” Germany abandoned its part in the project after the U.S. imposed an embargo on supplying nuclear technology to Iran.

Iran claims that it suffers from an electricity shortage and that the 1,000 megawatt plant will help meet its power needs. It has several times refused to comply with U.N. inspectors at the plant nor with international sanctions imposed on its nuclear program, which the U.S. and Israel say includes the development of nuclear weapons.

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