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Experts Say Iran Will Acquire Material to Produce Nuclear Weapon in 30 Days

Experts Say Iran Will Acquire Material to Produce Nuclear Weapon in 30 Days

Wednesday, 15 September, 2021 - 05:45
A number of new generation Iranian centrifuges are seen on display during Iran’s National Nuclear Energy Day in Tehran, Iran April 10, 2021. (West Asia News Agency via Reuters)

In a worst-case estimate, Iran is capable to produce enough weapons-grade uranium (WGU) for one nuclear weapon, in as short as one month, experts from the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) said in a report released on September 13.

“A worst-case breakout estimate, which is defined as the time required to produce enough WGU for one nuclear weapon, is as short as one month,” the ISIS report said.

It added that Iran could produce a second significant quantity of WGU in less than three months after breakout commences and it could produce a third quantity in less than five months, where it would need to produce some of the WGU from natural uranium.

Also, the ISIS report said that Iran has enough enriched uranium to produce WGU for over two nuclear weapons without using any natural uranium as feedstock, a fact that reduces breakout timelines.

Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) estimated that Iran has produced a stock of 10 kilograms of near 60 percent enriched uranium (in uranium mass or U mass).

In April, Iran started enriching its uranium stockpile to 60 percent compared to 20 percent in February.

The increase of nuclear enrichment coincided with the election of Joe Biden as president and the openness of his administration for renewing the 2015 nuclear deal.

Meanwhile, The New York Times said that a race over the summer to enrich uranium at 60 percent purity has put Iran in a position to produce the fuel for a single bomb in as short as one month.

It warned this week that it takes far longer to get from low-enriched uranium to 60 percent purity than it does to make the last leap to 90 percent, the level ordinarily used in nuclear weapons.

“That makes the 60 percent level particularly threatening,” it wrote.

It said Iran’s supply of 60 percent enriched uranium is not yet sufficient for a weapon.

“But it has spent the summer installing newer, high-performance centrifuges that could quickly bolster its stockpile,” it added.

The fuel must be converted to metal — a step the Iranians are also experimenting with, the international atomic agency reports — and then into a full warhead, which are steps that would take additional months and perhaps years, depending on technical skill, it explained.

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