Report: Iran Could Build Bomb in a Month

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Oct. 25, 2013, 10:02 a.m.

In­de­pend­ent ana­lysts on Thursday said Ir­an might not need more than a month to pro­duce enough atom­ic ma­ter­i­al for one weapon in a hy­po­thet­ic­al “break­out,” USA Today re­por­ted.

“Short­en­ing break­out times have im­plic­a­tions for any ne­go­ti­ation with Ir­an,” the In­sti­tute for Sci­ence and In­ter­na­tion­al Se­cur­ity ana­lys­is states. “An es­sen­tial find­ing is that [these break­outs, or in­dic­a­tions of how long it would take to turn low-en­riched urani­um to weapons-grade fuel] are cur­rently too short and short­en­ing fur­ther.”

In Wash­ing­ton, Sen­at­or Mark Kirk (R- Ill.) in re­sponse to the re­port urged the Sen­ate to “im­me­di­ately” pass new le­gis­la­tion ex­pand­ing ex­ist­ing sanc­tions against the Middle East­ern na­tion, in or­der “to pre­vent Ir­an from ac­quir­ing an un­detect­able break­out cap­ab­il­ity.” The ex­ist­ing eco­nom­ic pen­al­ties lever­aged by the United States are aimed at pres­sur­ing Tehran to ad­dress fears that its form­ally ci­vil­ian atom­ic activ­it­ies are cov­er­ing for de­vel­op­ment of a nuc­le­ar-arms cap­ab­il­ity.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, though, on Thursday re­portedly asked the Sen­ate to post­pone con­sid­er­a­tion of any new sanc­tions, as new nuc­le­ar ne­go­ti­ations be­gin between Ir­a­ni­an dip­lo­mats and coun­ter­parts from the five per­man­ent U.N. Se­cur­ity Coun­cil mem­ber na­tions and Ger­many. The sides have sched­uled an Oct. 30-31 meet­ing of tech­nic­al spe­cial­ists, Re­u­ters re­por­ted on Fri­day.

Be­fore those talks, Ir­an is slated to con­fer sep­ar­ately with a U.N. agency on po­ten­tially clear­ing the way for a stalled nuc­le­ar probe. En­voys be­lieve Monday’s dis­cus­sion could lead to agree­ments help­ing the In­ter­na­tion­al Atom­ic En­ergy Agency in­vest­ig­ate wheth­er Tehran once en­gaged in sci­entif­ic activ­it­ies rel­ev­ant to atom­ic-arms de­vel­op­ment, ac­cord­ing to a Re­u­ters art­icle from Fri­day.

IAEA Dir­ect­or Gen­er­al Yukiya Amano is sep­ar­ately ex­pec­ted to hold an hour-long meet­ing on Monday with Ir­a­ni­an Deputy For­eign Min­is­ter Ab­bas Araq­chi, the wire ser­vice quoted the U.N. nuc­le­ar watch­dog as say­ing. The one-on-one dis­cus­sion would take place pri­or to the broad­er nuc­le­ar-probe talks.

Ir­an, mean­while, ap­pears to be selling less pet­ro­leum to oth­er coun­tries this month than at any point since early this year, sug­gest­ing im­port­ers in Asia and else­where have not im­me­di­ately re­spon­ded to the Middle East­ern na­tion’s re­cent out­reach in the long­stand­ing nuc­le­ar dis­pute, Re­u­ters re­por­ted.

The Per­sian Gulf power’s crude pet­ro­leum ex­ports for this month could be al­most 30 per­cent smal­ler than its equi­val­ent total from last Oc­to­ber, said ana­lysts track­ing Ir­a­ni­an oil ves­sels.

The news agency pinned the lag­ging sales, in part, on the U.S. sanc­tions. State buy­ers of Ir­a­ni­an crude are likely still lim­it­ing their im­ports in an ef­fort to con­tin­ue re­ceiv­ing half-year waivers from meas­ures, ad­op­ted in early 2012, that threaten any coun­try fail­ing to con­tinu­ously re­strict pet­ro­leum pur­chases from the Middle East­ern na­tion.

The European Uni­on last year en­acted an Ir­a­ni­an-oil em­bargo in re­sponse to ten­sions over Tehran’s nuc­le­ar activ­it­ies. More re­cently, EU na­tions are act­ing to re­in­state a num­ber of Ir­an sanc­tions struck down in ju­di­ciary de­cisions, en­voys told Re­u­ters for a Fri­day re­port.

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