By ISRAEL HAYOM—
As of today, Iran could “break out” and produce a sufficient quantity of uranium for a nuclear bomb by using its installed centrifuges and low enriched uranium stockpiles in as little as one month, a report by the U.S. Institute for Science and International Security has found.
Using its existing equipment and uranium stockpiles, Iran could produce “sufficient quantity in as little as approximately 1.0-1.6 months, if it uses all its near 20 percent low enriched hexafluoride stockpile. Using only 3.5 percent LEU, Iran would need at least 1.9 to 2.2 months and could make approximately 4 sufficient quantities of weapons grade uranium using all its existing 3.5 percent low enriched uranium stockpile,” the report from the highly respected organization states,
In a paper entitled “Iranian Breakout Estimates, Updated September 2013” authors Patrick Migliorini, David Albright, Houston Wood, and Christina Walrond write that since their last report in October 2012, Iran has steadily expanded the number of centrifuges installed at both its Fordow and Natanz gas centrifuge plants.
Additionally, the report states, Iran has started installing its more advanced centrifuge model, the IR-2m centrifuge, at the Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant. It is these “substantial changes” which have merited the group to update its previous breakout estimates of the time Iran would need to produce one significant quantity of weapon-grade uranium.
The report states that if Iran successfully produced enough weapons grade uranium 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. “Therefore, the most practical strategy to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons is to prevent it from accumulating sufficient nuclear explosive material, particularly in secret or without adequate warning. This strategy depends on knowing how quickly Iran could make weapons grade uranium,” the report states.
Assuming Iran possessed covert nuclear facilities with “optimized cascade structure and very good centrifuge performance, it is possible that Iran could use a covert plant to break out in as little as approximately one to two weeks,” the report states.
The Institute recommends that nuclear negotiations be guided by “the need to lengthen breakout times significantly from their current values. A reasonable minimum breakout time should be six months or preferably longer. If breakout took greater than or equal to six months, the IAEA could clearly detect the program.
It is long before sufficient quantity is produced, and the international community would have time to marshal a response to stop Iran producing enough weapons grade uranium for a nuclear weapon.”