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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Iran could be six months from nukes

A study by the Oxford Research Group suggests that Iran may be able to speed up its timetable for producing nuclear weapons in the event that it is attacked and may be able to produce such a weapon in as little as six months:
The Oxford Research Group report is written by nuclear scientist and arms expert Frank Barnaby.

"If Iran is moving towards a nuclear weapons capacity it is doing so relatively slowly, most estimates put it at least five years away," he says.

Mr Barnaby adds that an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities "would almost certainly lead to a fast-track programme to develop a small number of nuclear devices as quickly as possible".

He says it "would be a bit like deciding to build a car from spare parts instead of building the entire car factory".

The BBC's diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus says that with two US navy aircraft carrier strike groups in the Gulf region and US spokesmen refusing to rule out force, this study is timely and highlights what most air power experts have been saying for some time.
Of course, Iran could also speed up its nuclear development without being attacked, and there is also the possibility - which the study apparently discounts - that an attack could set back the nuclear program so badly that it would take years to recover. The fact that a major Iranian defense official has apparently defected makes the prospect of an effective attack on Iran's nuclear facilities more plausible.


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