Iran stocks enough enriched uranium for first nuclear bomb
The White House expressed concern Friday, Feb. 20, about a new International Atomic Energy Agency report that said Iran recently understated how much uranium it had enriched. The nuclear watchdog reported Thursday, Feb. 19, that Iran had stocked more than one tonne of low enriched uranium hexafluoride at Natanz alone. If enriched, it could produce more than 20 kilos of fissile material – enough for a bomb. French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner spoke Friday of a new enrichment plant capable of housing thousands of centrifuges the Iranians had built at a secret site, confirming long-held suspicions of sites that the UN inspectors had not heard about.
This week Dr Mohammed ElBaradei, the international nuclear agency’s director said: “Iran right now is not providing any access, any clarification with regards to the whole area of the possible military dimension.
They are not following what the Security Council asked us to do, that is ‘please clarify this issue’.”
Officials in Washington commented: There is a steady timeline of improvement, especially in terms of mastering the efficiency of the centrifuges, meaning that Iran has been able to increase its output of enriched uranium.”
debkafile reported on Nov. 28, 2008, that by February, Iran would be able to approach production of its first nuclear bomb after accumulating enough enriched uranium.
The UN report also discloses that Iran had built a dome over its Arak heavy water reactor, preventing satellites from taking images of the facility,
debkafile‘s military sources report that the Arak plant is the core of a program for processing plutonium for military purposes. The dome was a major project, but according to our sources, useless since both American and Israeli satellites have instruments for penetrating the structure.
All these developments mean that Iran has reached a “breakout capacity” – a stage that would allow it to produce enough fissile material for a bomb. This crosses a “red line” that for years Israel has said it would not accept.
debkafile adds: The Obama administration is working on its negotiating stance ahead of direct dialogue with Iran in June, while Israel is plunged in the hectic process of forming a coalition government after its Feb. 10 election. Our Washington sources add that President Barack Obama has not broached the issue of uranium enrichment which brought forth UN Security Council sanctions against Iran under his successor.