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."