Re: Ultimate Ultimatum

Writing yesterday about Iran’s nuclear program, Gordon correctly raised an eyebrow on the virtues of dialogue. Of course, it is a matter of speculation what it means that Iran has enough fissile material to build a nuclear bomb if and when it reprocesses it. The fissile material in question is low enriched uranium, and Iran would need to feed it back into its centrifuges to enrich it to weapons-grade. As Gordon notes,

The milestone is merely virtual because Iranian technicians have produced only lowly enriched material with their centrifuges. They would need to reconfigure this equipment and operate it for several months to produce the highly enriched metal needed for the core of a truly destructive bomb.

The question then: how long would this take them? A partial answer comes from the IAEA latest report on Iran, which was leaked two days ago on David Albright’s ISIS website. In the report, IAEA Director General Mohammad ElBaradei writes that, “to date, the results of the environmental samples taken at FEP and PFEP, and the operating records for FEP3, indicate that the plants have been operating as declared (i.e. less than 5.0% U-235 enrichment).” In a footnote, ElBaradei indicates that enrichment levels at the Fuel Enrichment Plant “show enrichment levels … of up to 4.9% U-235.” 5.0% enrichment levels are a critical benchmark. Break that barrier, and covering the remaining ground to reach the 90% enrichment level needed for a nuclear bomb is relatively simple.

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Re: Ultimate Ultimatum

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