Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Iran 'Could Go Nuclear In Three Years'
The Telegraph (UK) ^ | 1-16-2006 | Con Coughlin

Posted on 01/15/2006 6:13:40 PM PST by blam

Iran 'could go nuclear within three years'

By Con Coughlin, Defence and Security Editor
(Filed: 16/01/2006)

Iranian scientists are expected to start work this week on the highly technical task of enriching tons of uranium to a level where it could be used in the production of atomic weapons, say the latest reports received by western intelligence agencies.

The work is to be undertaken at the top-secret Natanz uranium enrichment facility 90 miles north-east of the capital, Teheran.

The very existence of the plant was concealed from the outside world until two years ago, when an Iranian exile group produced details of its work.

Intelligence sources say Iran will begin feeding converted uranium into 164 centrifuges at Natanz this week. That could enable it to create enriched uranium of sufficient quality for nuclear weapons production within three years.

Previous estimates of the minimum time required had ranged from five to 10 years.

Iran's unilateral decision to resume enrichment is by far the most critical development in its latest stand-off with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations-sponsored body responsible for enforcing the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

As a signatory to the NPT, Iran is obliged to provide the IAEA with a comprehensive breakdown of all its nuclear activity, which Teheran insists is purely for the development of an indigenous nuclear power industry - despite Iran having one of the world's largest known oil reserves.

But the discrepancies that have appeared in declarations to IAEA inspectors - which included concealing the existence of the Natanz complex - have increased suspicions that Iran is well advanced in its clandestine programme to build a nuclear weapon.

Nuclear experts working for the intelligence agencies have concluded that it now has the resources necessary for developing a nuclear weapon.

"Iran has spent the past 20 years scouring the world to acquire all the means of production and materials necessary for building nuclear weapons," a senior western intelligence officer told The Daily Telegraph.

"The big intelligence debate now is not whether Iran can build a bomb, but how long it will take them to build it."

Despite concerted attempts by western intelligence to prevent them acquiring nuclear equipment, the Iranians have managed to import key components.

Latest reports suggest that Iran has at least 1,000 tons of uranium -"yellowcake", the oxide of uranium that can be enriched to create weapons-grade uranium.

It was acquired from Niger and South Africa in the late 1990s. When processed, that quantity of yellowcake could provide enough material for five nuclear bombs.

The Iranians have also obtained key components for processing the yellowcake and technical expertise from A Q Khan, the controversial scientist regarded as being the "father" of Pakistan's nuclear bomb.

By far the most alarming acquisition from Pakistan, according to western intelligence assessments, is the P2 centrifuge, the highly sophisticated device necessary for enriching uranium to weapons grade.

In order to reach the advanced stage needed for building an atomic weapon, it is necessary to connect a number of centrifuges so that they form a "cascade".

When they were finally allowed to visit Natanz two years ago, IAEA inspectors were alarmed to discover that the Iranians had managed to construct a cascade. This comprises 164 centrifuges, which are based on Pakistan's P2 design.

Any doubts about the effectiveness of the devices were banished when soil samples taken from the site by IAEA inspectors showed traces of weapons-grade uranium.

If the nuclear programme were genuinely aimed at developing nuclear power, there would be no need to process weapons-grade uranium.

Asked to explain the soil samples, the Iranians provided the rather lame excuse that the traces had inadvertently been imported from an unidentified foreign power - believed to be Pakistan - when the centrifuges were purchased.

This is only one of the many glaring inconsistencies that have appeared in the Iranians' submissions to the IAEA, which has been powerless to prevent their relentless pursuit of nuclear technology.

As a consequence Iran now has all the means of production and materials to proceed to the final weapons stage.

That process will begin this week when scientists resume work on processing uranium to weapons grade at Natanz.

Much of the preparatory work has already been done at the Isfahan nuclear conversion plant.

Work resumed there last year when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ordered the removal of IAEA seals, unilaterally breaking the Paris Accord of November 2004.

This was negotiated with the European Union as Iran promised to suspend its nuclear activities until IAEA inspectors had satisfied themselves that Teheran's nuclear intentions were purely peaceful.

Isfahan has the capacity to process 300 tons of yellowcake a year, and before work was suspended in 2004 it was known that 37 tons had been developed to make uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas. UF6 is a key component in achieving weapons grade.

Once the UF6 is produced, it is transferred to Natanz where it is fed into the centrifuges to enrich uranium to weapons grade.

Exactly how much UF6 has been produced since the Isfahan seals were removed last August is unknown, although conservative intelligence estimates suggest there are sufficient stocks of UF6 for 30 kilos of enriched uranium. The warhead used at Hiroshima contained 25 kilos.

The only question remaining for western intelligence is to assess exactly how long it will take the Iranians to complete the process.

"We just don't know how efficient the Natanz plant is at enriching uranium," said an intelligence official.

"This is a very complex and highly sophisticated process that requires a great deal of technical ability."

IAEA officials have estimated that it will take Iran three years to produce weapons-grade uranium once the Natanz plant resumes work.

Given that its Shahab-3 ballistic missile system has the range to hit southern Europe, it is clear that the threat posed by Teheran's hard-line regime is significant and urgent.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: could; go; iran; irannukes; nuclear; three; within; years

1 posted on 01/15/2006 6:13:42 PM PST by blam
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: blam

Make it go nuclear much sooner with some very special bunker bombs.


2 posted on 01/15/2006 6:16:23 PM PST by Nateman
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam

Debka had a similar report 3 yrs ago.


3 posted on 01/15/2006 6:18:57 PM PST by sono (You can't convert people in pink dresses)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam

BTTT


4 posted on 01/15/2006 6:19:24 PM PST by Fiddlstix (Tagline Repair Service. Let us fix those broken Taglines. Inquire within(Presented by TagLines R US))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam
The work is to be undertaken at the top-secret Natanz uranium enrichment facility 90 miles north-east of the capital, Teheran.

So much for the secret. Let's face it, the only reason the Iranians are being so bold is because they ALREADY have The Bomb. This is a country that managed to deceive the entire world for over twenty years and has rolled up every Western spy network we've tried to insert into it. Read the writing on the wall.
5 posted on 01/15/2006 6:19:47 PM PST by Lejes Rimul (Paleo and Proud)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam

Someone might go nuclear on them sooner than the three years IMO.

I say we will be at war with them in the near future.
They are getting crazier and crazier.


6 posted on 01/15/2006 6:21:00 PM PST by A CA Guy (God Bless America, God bless and keep safe our fighting men and women.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam

Anyone who is not a muslim, is a Jew or an infidel. We all know what the muslims think of Jews and infidels. The current Iranian prez goes further and states it publicly.

The Jews and infidels can't let the Iranians go nuclear.


7 posted on 01/15/2006 6:24:26 PM PST by umgud (uncompassionate conservative)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Nateman
It was acquired from Niger and South Africa in the late 1990s. When processed, that quantity of yellowcake could provide enough material for five nuclear bombs.

Wasn't Valerie Plame's shack-job husband sent to Niger to find out who was getting yellow cake, but between sipping mint-julieps and interviewing people at his hotel was unable to provide the CIA with an answer?? What was that fool's name again, I forgot ..

8 posted on 01/15/2006 6:25:43 PM PST by Ken522
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: blam

Iran's first (and only) test will be the real deal aimed at Israel in all likelihood. I suspect they already have the materials and are simply working on the delivery system and the timing. Hard to deal with self proclaimed martyrs.


9 posted on 01/15/2006 6:28:14 PM PST by TADSLOS (Right Wing Infidel since 1954)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: A CA Guy

Dear Iran:

You're next.

Sincerely,
U.S.A.


10 posted on 01/15/2006 6:33:07 PM PST by andie74 (Hook 'em Horns!!!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Lejes Rimul
exactly why would they strut if they had nothing under the hood
11 posted on 01/15/2006 6:34:51 PM PST by Flavius (Qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: andie74

WW3 here we go.


12 posted on 01/15/2006 6:35:32 PM PST by Westlander (Unleash the Neutron Bomb)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: blam

OR, in the next 30-50 minutes. Ka-Boom!!!


13 posted on 01/15/2006 6:40:36 PM PST by Waco
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam
This is a very complex and highly sophisticated process that requires a great deal of technical ability.

Right, it requires that "very complex and highly sophisticated" technology from the 1940s.

14 posted on 01/15/2006 6:41:54 PM PST by TChad
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam
Moab, pave, repeat.
15 posted on 01/15/2006 6:45:13 PM PST by mosquewatch.com ("The enemy is anyone who will get you killed, no matter what side they are on.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam

B.S. more like three months...

Someone wants to buy them more time....

imo


16 posted on 01/15/2006 6:45:35 PM PST by joesnuffy (A camel once bit our sister.. but we knew what to do.. we gathered rocks and squashed her!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam

I have a question which will surely reveal my ignorance (but I'm rapidly learning more of the Persian mindset):

If the Iranians are neither Arab nor Palestinian, why does the current leadership so hate Israel, even to the point of denying the Holocaust? Is it strictly Islamofacism? Why target the Jews even more rabidly than us Christian "Infidels?"


17 posted on 01/15/2006 6:45:45 PM PST by Jedidah
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Jedidah
Is it strictly Islamofacism?

Yes.

18 posted on 01/15/2006 6:47:37 PM PST by TADSLOS (Right Wing Infidel since 1954)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: TChad

Enrichment is a complex process. But who's to say that the Paki scientist hasn't already helped them obtain the material.

It's a very bad situation and I doubt highly that this timeline is accurate.
I think we are facing a crisis now, not in three years.


19 posted on 01/15/2006 6:49:09 PM PST by romanesq
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: Jedidah
It's very long and complex, a good starting point would be Keddie's Roots of Revolution. In very, very, short the Iranian Islamists harbor a grudge against American and Israel for supporting the dictatorial Shah, who tried to secularize his country from above.
20 posted on 01/15/2006 7:00:41 PM PST by Lejes Rimul (Paleo and Proud)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: TADSLOS
"Iran's first (and only) test will be the real deal aimed at Israel in all likelihood. I suspect they already have the materials and are simply working on the delivery system and the timing. Hard to deal with self proclaimed martyrs."

They may even try to go with at dirty bomb on Israel and try to blame it on an Israeli 'accident.'

21 posted on 01/15/2006 7:03:26 PM PST by blam
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: blam
I think they are very, very close now, end of the year tops.
The technology is very mature, off the shelf solutions can cut the time down. The tricky part for all Nukes is testing, you never really know if it will work unless you test the design. Very high end Computers can model this pretty well but I would hate to launch a strike on someone and have duds. Like pulling a gun on someone when its empty, there is no oops... Sorry excuse. God help us all and give our president the Courage to deal with these madmen, This is so like Hitler in 39, stop them now not later.
22 posted on 01/15/2006 7:04:12 PM PST by Roverman2K
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam

The longer we wait to deal with Iran, the worse it will get for all of us. imo


23 posted on 01/15/2006 7:09:12 PM PST by TheLion
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Roverman2K
"Sorry excuse. God help us all and give our president the Courage to deal with these madmen, This is so like Hitler in 39, stop them now not later."

I was suprised today to see McCain and Finestein support GWB on the recent attack in Pakistan.

24 posted on 01/15/2006 7:11:06 PM PST by blam
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: TheLion
"The longer we wait to deal with Iran, the worse it will get for all of us. imo"

I agree.

Someone is gonna get nuked of 'dirty' bombed in the near future.

25 posted on 01/15/2006 7:12:29 PM PST by blam
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: blam
They may even try to go with at dirty bomb on Israel and try to blame it on an Israeli 'accident.'

Good point. Severely damage Israel, kill off some Palis in the process, causing another global Jihad, set Israel up for world condemnation then act on a built in excuse finishing Israel off with a medium range ballistic nuc.

26 posted on 01/15/2006 7:12:45 PM PST by TADSLOS (Right Wing Infidel since 1954)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: blam
Image hosted by Photobucket.com it now has the full nuclear cycle, from mine to bomb-grade core, and schematics for the firing-set thx to SlickWillie, and building 5000 centrifuges to run 24/7/365... how hard can it be to run the numbers???
27 posted on 01/15/2006 7:14:31 PM PST by Chode (American Hedonist )
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam

Iran will definitely spread the wealth to anybody who opposes the US.

Another reason I think they should be dealt with now.


28 posted on 01/15/2006 7:14:53 PM PST by TheLion
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

Comment #29 Removed by Moderator

To: iwannstalk

Get lost TROLL


30 posted on 01/15/2006 7:21:22 PM PST by TADSLOS (Right Wing Infidel since 1954)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: Lejes Rimul

Bingo: We have a winner!!!


31 posted on 01/15/2006 7:22:53 PM PST by kublia khan (Absolute war brings total victory)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: blam

Which means a) they already have at least one or b) they're 6 months or less away from having one or more.


32 posted on 01/15/2006 7:41:47 PM PST by DoNotDivide (Were the American Revolutionaries rebelling against Constituted Authority and thereby God? I say no.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam

It is doomsday if the Mullahs have atomic weapons.

Natanz should be destroyed, not a single rock should be left standing.

It is Pres. Bush's duty to make this happen.


33 posted on 01/15/2006 8:04:28 PM PST by tomahawk
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: tomahawk
"It is Pres. Bush's duty to make this happen."

I worry that all the harping over Iraq... he may delay beyond the point of no return. Can you imagine if this drags on into the presidential campaign.

I'd rather our 'cowboy' GWB do it. (Now!)

34 posted on 01/15/2006 9:12:40 PM PST by blam
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 33 | View Replies]

To: romanesq
Setting accurate timelines for Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs requires detailed, current knowledge of the inner workings of those programs. I doubt that we have such precise knowledge. After our excellent start in Iraq, we seem to have settled back into our old game of playing chicken with Armageddon.
35 posted on 01/15/2006 9:35:16 PM PST by TChad
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: blam

2006 Republicans lose control of the Senate - or numbers reduces in both houses.
2008 A Dem is elected President
2009 Iran makes a move - announces it has a nuke or uses it.


36 posted on 01/17/2006 10:56:11 AM PST by FlatLandBeer
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam

Yeah, and the world claims that it is all Bush's fault!


37 posted on 01/17/2006 11:01:23 AM PST by Redleg Duke (Kennedy and Kerry, the two Commissars of the Peoples' Republic of Massachusetts!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam

causing israel to go postal


38 posted on 01/17/2006 11:36:24 AM PST by isom35
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson