Iran reaches milestone at key nuclear plant

Fordo began in 2011 to enrich uranium to purities of 20 percent.


Afp November 17, 2012

VIENNA: Iran is on the cusp of being able to triple output of nuclear material that, if further treated, could be used in the core of a bomb, a new UN atomic agency report showed.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) quarterly update said that fitting out of the Fordo plant was now "complete" - despite extreme sanctions pressure.

Fordo, which Iran only told the IAEA about in 2009, began in 2011 to enrich uranium to purities of 20 percent, a process that lies at the heart of the international community's concerns.

Enriched to this level, uranium can be used to produce medical isotopes - Iran's stated intention - but when further enriched, a relatively easy process, it can go in a bomb.

If Iran uses the new machinery at Fordo to enrich uranium to 20-percent levels - it has not told the IAEA whether this is its aim technically - production could increase from 15 kilos per month now to around 45 kilos, a source said.

Experts say that around 250 kilos of 20-percent uranium is needed to convert into enough 90-percent material for one nuclear weapon.

However, deciding to "break out" and enrich to 90-percent would quickly be detected by the IAEA, likely sparking military action by Israel and the United States.

Making a bomb also requires a whole range of other activities such as working out how to get the fissile material to explode, and putting it in a warhead in a missile.

The IAEA's findings "provide further troubling evidence that Iran is continuing to pursue sensitive nuclear fuel-cycle activities in violation of UN Security Council resolutions and is slowly enhancing its nuclear weapons breakout potential," analyst Daryl Kimball of the Arms Control Association said.

COMMENTS (1)

Monash | 8 years ago | Reply

I'm impressed ET, why not keep an eye out on Israel's nuclear assets as well.

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