Iran already has the know-how to make and explode a nuclear warhead and awaits a go-ahead from its supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to race its first bomb into production, according to a report in the U.K.’s Times Online.
The Times bombshell credits Western intelligence sources for confirming the Israeli conclusion that Iran has reached the end of a multibillion-dollar, three-decade master plan to fashion a nuclear bomb.
An irony in the revelation is that the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate concluded two years ago that Iran cut off its nuclear bomb research effort in 2003 – as a result of the threat the U.S. invasion of neighboring Iraq presented.
However, the Times’ sources revealed that the real reason was the fact that Iran had completed its program to manufacture weapons-grade uranium by the summer of 2003, reaching a point of technological sophistication that would enable it to make a bomb within a year of an order from its supreme leader.
Furthermore, the device will be of a weight and bulk that would allow the weapon to be launched on Iran’s long-range Shehab-3 missiles. This represents Israel’s worst-case-scenario.
The latest reported intelligence detailed by the Times also suggested that the Iranian Defense Ministry — through its covert nuclear research department called “Amad,” or “Supply” in Farsi — would take just six months to enrich enough uranium and another six months to assemble the warhead.
This information is consistent with Israel’s claim that Iran has enriched 1,010kg of uranium to 3.9 percent, which it maintains would be enough for 30kg of highly enriched uranium at 95 percent. About 30kg is enough to build one bomb.
According to the Times, Iran’s method for triggering its nuclear device is the “multipoint initiation system,” which very simply explained involves wrapping highly enriched uranium in high explosives and detonating it.
The Times’ sources further warned that Iran may have established small secret desert facilities to handle the final push to the bomb. This might diminish the damage to the program that might be accomplished with military strikes on the nuclear facilities at Natanz and Arak in central Iran. Israel has made it clear that a military option to diplomacy and sanctions is still on the table.
Heretofore, it had been surmised that a failsafe strike on the two known facilities would set back the Iranian program two to three years.
Furthermore, secret desert facilities would defeat the inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, who at this point monitor only fissile material produced at the known sites.
The revelations come against a heated backdrop where Washington has the clock ticking until next month, the deadline given Iran to open talks on the nuclear crisis.
Meanwhile, British intelligence services suggested that there is no reason to doubt the assessment, according to the Times report.
According to a recent Times analysis, if Iran chooses not to engage with Washington and rejects a negotiated deal on its nuclear facilities, then America, Britain, and France will push for stronger United Nations sanctions against Tehran. These will take effect only if Russia and China, who hold the right of veto at the U.N. Security Council, drop objections to tighter economic measures.
Whether coincidental or premeditated, Press TV, the first Iranian international news network, broadcasting in English on a round-the-clock basis, today featured a story about another body that it reported has reached the exact opposite conclusion about the state of affairs in Iran’s nuclear program.
The French senate's Foreign Affair Committee affirms that there is no decisive evidence about the military nature of Iran nuclear program, Press TV reported.
“The Foreign Affairs Committee of the French senate has released its latest report saying there is no strong evidence to prove the nature of Iran's nuclear program is military,” the report said.
The Iranian media arm also reported that committee member Jean Francois-Poncet contends that “Iran's nuclear issue is indeed the second challenge in the region where the general nuclearization (sic) of the entire area is the main worry.”
Iran has maintained for a long time that its enrichment program is intended for civilian purposes and that as a Nonproliferation Treaty signatory, the country has a right to the technology already in the hands of many others.
Iran’s public relations initiatives aside, the ante may be going up in the stand-off between the U.S. and Iran.
According to The New York Times, the Obama administration is mulling cutting off Iran’s imports of gasoline and other refined oil products if it continues to stonewall on negotiations.
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