Iran solves centrifuge issues, could have nuke capability by MarchWASHINGTON -- Iran has significantly enhanced its gas centrifuge fleet, despite assertions to the contrary, according to a new report.
The Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security stated that Teheran has resolved many of the technical flaws in its 4,000 centrifuges being used in Iran's uranium enrichment program. The institute, headed by former United Nations nuclear inspector David Albright, said Teheran was enriching uranium at a rate that would enable nuclear weapons capacity by March 2009.
Reminder....using 1944 technology it took the USA 10 months to refine enough U-235 for weapon deemed so reliable it didn't even need testing before it was dropped on Hiroshima (the test at Alamogordo in July 1945 was of a plutonium implosion device, not a U-235 device). That's June-July 2009 FOR A USABLE WEAPON if the starting line is September.
Is there time for diplomacy to work? Or is there just enough time for military plans? Or should we just act as Joe Biden advises...
Biden told Jerusalem officials three years ago that he firmly opposed an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities and that Israel would likely have to come to terms with a nuclear Iran.I wonder if the other dictatorships in the area feel the same way as Biden does about acquiescence to Iran?
"The centrifuges now appear to be running at approximately 85 percent of their stated target capacity, a significant increase over previous rates," the report said.
The report, released on Sept. 15, was based on information by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
A map locating Iran's nuclear facilities. AFP
In early 2008, the agency indicated that Iran was operating its centrifuge fleet at 50 percent capacity.
Titled "Centrifuge Operation Significantly Improving," the U.S. institute said Iran has now intensified uranium enrichment. The institute cited an IAEA finding that from May 7 to Aug. 30, 2008, Iran fed 3,630 kilograms of uranium hexafluoride into the cascades at the Natanz plant, "a significant increase over previous rates."
"Whatever the actual amount of LEU [low-enriched uranium], Iran is progressing toward this [nuclear weapons] capability and can be expected to reach it in six months to two years," the report said.
The institute's assessment appeared to differ with that of IAEA. On Sept. 15, an agency briefer told the board of governors that Iran was operating much of its centrifuge fleet at 20 percent capacity.
But Albright, along with report co-authors Jacqueline Shire and Paul Brannan, determined that Iran has overcome difficulties in operating its P-1 centrifuge cascades. The researchers said that until mid-2008 Iran lost a significant amount of uranium because of breakdowns in Pakistani-designed P-1 centrifuges.
"This latest [IAEA] report, however, shows that Iran has largely overcome these problems, which is reflected in the increased feed rates and LEU production," the institute said. "One official close to the agency stated that Iran may have reached a point where its cascades are operating in a stable manner, noting that fewer centrifuges are breaking."
The institute said Iran has assembled 18 cascades that comprise 3,000 P-1 centrifuges. At the same time, Iran was installing a second module of 3,000 centrifuges.
Iran has also been accelerating tests of its advanced IR-2 centrifuge. The institute said Iran has installed two or three models of what was termed "next-generation" centrifuges, including IR-2, IR-3 and "possibly a longer centrifuge."
"During this reporting [May to August 2008] period, Iran has significantly increased the feed rate into its IR-2 centrifuges," the report said. "This development appears to reflect Iran's goal of developing a more advanced centrifuge that can be deployed in the FEP [fuel enrichment plant] instead of its P1 centrifuges. It is unknown how long Iran intends to test these new designs or when they could be deployed in large numbers in the underground halls."
Duh, ya think they might be underground?