Analyst: Iranian A-Bomb May Be Eight Weeks Away
by IPT News • Jun 6, 2011 at 10:20 pm
Note: This post has been updated to correct a reference to Gregory Jones' background.
According to a new analysis from Nonproliferation Policy Education Center defense policy analyst Gregory Jones, Tehran may be just eight weeks away from being able to enrich enough uranium for a nuclear bomb. Despite reports of setbacks in its nuclear program, Iran is making steady progress towards an atomic weapon, he said.
Airstrikes are no longer sufficient to stop Iran, Jones said, and the only way to prevent it from acquiring such a weapon is through military occupation of the country. Based on his analysis of recently issued IAEA findings on Iran, Jones believes Washington and Jerusalem cannot prevent Iran from developing a nuclear warhead whenever it wants to.
Jones' analysis was made public on Monday, as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors began a weeklong meeting in Vienna, Austria, where the Iranian and Syrian nuclear programs are certain to be major topics of discussion.
IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano said Monday that the agency has "received further information related to possible past or current undisclosed nuclear activities" that Iran "may have continued until recently." Amano has also said that Iran continues to stockpile uranium in defiance of U.N. sanctions and refuses to answer questions about possible military dimensions of its nuclear program.
Washington is pressing the United Nations to declare that Tehran has been operating a nuclear weapons program and that related activities continue. For that to occur, the IAEA (a U.N. affiliate) must formally declare the Iranian program is militarily oriented - which it has yet to do.
Similarly, Washington is also expected to press for sanctions against Syria for its illicit nuclear activities. Last month, Amano said that a building at a Syrian nuclear facility destroyed by the Israeli Air Force in a September 2007 raid "was very likely a nuclear reactor and should have been declared by Syria."
Reader comments on this item
Setting the Record Straight
Submitted by Gregory S. Jones, Jun 7, 2011 19:59
My paper has been misinterpreted by you and several others who have written about it. First, it was done by me for the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, not as a part of my activities at the RAND Corp., where I am a part-time adjunct staff member. Based on IAEA reports, I calculate that Iran could produce within two months the amount of enriched uranium needed to make one nuclear weapon. I said nothing about when Iran might produce a nuclear weapon itself. It is uncertain if Iran has the ability to put that material into a bomb, although it seems likely Iran is working on that technology. The goal of this work, which I've been doing for several years, is to highlight Iran's nuclear ambitions, not to be alarmist. I have not proposed that the U.S., Israel or any other country invade Iran. Rather, I am pointing out that since there is no concrete way to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, the U.S. must develop policy options based on a clear understanding of Iran's capabilities.