October 2, 2012

A Nuclear Iran - How much time ...

Via ISIS - The Institute for Science and International Security

A useful article detailing exactly how much time it would take for Iran to go from being not merely nuclear but weapons capable ...

ISIS has learned in researching and discussing the new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran that important differences exist from the 2007 NIE on Iran’s capability to make a nuclear weapon. The 2007 declassified NIE specifically noted that it did not take into account Iran’s “declared civil work related to uranium conversion and enrichment” when assessing the status of its nuclear weapons program. The new NIE does not distinguish between declared and undeclared enrichment activities when considering Iran’s nuclear weapons capability. In doing so, the new NIE more accurately values the impact that Iran’s advancements in its gas centrifuge uranium enrichment program, declared or otherwise, have on its capability to decide to make highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon. This acknowledges that Iran’s capability to make highly enriched uranium, as represented by the declared elements of its uranium enrichment program, influences any political decision to make nuclear weapons.

The new NIE includes that Iran could be furthering its development of components for nuclear weapons while reportedly assessing that not enough activity has occurred on weaponization to justify a determination that Iran has made a decision to restart its nuclear weaponization program or build a bomb. 1 Both NIEs judge that Iran had a nuclear weaponization program prior to 2004. Missing in ISIS’s information about the new NIE is the confidence level that the intelligence community has in its ability to detect a restart and the level of detected activity necessary to determine that a restart has occurred. The 2007 NIE judged with moderate confidence that restart had not happened as of mid-2007. It should be noted that this assessment about restart was rejected by key European allies and Israel, which all assessed that Iran was likely continuing to develop its nuclear weaponization capabilities and that its nuclear weapons program likely existed after 2003.
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