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Monday, September 22, 2008

IAEA leaps into action: Says Iran 'could' be hiding nukes

The IAEA leaped into action this morning and admitted that Iran 'could' be hiding nuclear weapons without the agency's knowledge. Ya think?
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency warned Monday that he cannot guarantee that Iran is not running a secret nuclear program, comments that appeared to reflect a high level of frustration with stonewalling of his investigators.


ElBaradei said Iran's stonewalling of his agency was a "serious concern."

"Iran needs to give the agency substantive information" to clear up suspicions, he told the closed board meeting, in comments made available to reporters. He rejected the Iranian suggestion that the IAEA probe could expose non-nuclear military secrets, saying the IAEA "does not in any way seek to 'pry' into Iran's conventional or missile-related military activities."

"We need, however, to make use of all relevant information to be able to confirm that no nuclear material is being used for nuclear weapons purposes," he said, urging Iran to "implement all measures required to build confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear program at the earliest possible date."

If Teheran fails to do so, the IAEA "will not be able to provide credible assurances about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran," he said.

Diplomats at the gathering described ElBaradei's comments as unusually blunt.
And how close is Iran to a nuclear weapon? According to former IAEA inspector David Albright, Iran could be as little as six months away.
Physicist and former UN nuclear inspector David Albright says says Teheran could reach weapons capacity in as little as 6 months through uranium enrichment.

An IAEA report drawn up for the IAEA board meeting says that Teheran has increased the number of centrifuges used to process uranium to nearly 4,000 from 3,000 just a few months ago.

But Albright, whose Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security closely tracks suspect secret proliferators, says he has also been able to extrapolate other information from the report that is less obvious but of at least equal concern.

Iran, he says, has managed to iron out most of the bugs in the intensely complicated process of enrichment that often saw the centrifuges breaking down. The machines, he says "now appear to be running at approximately 85 percent of their stated target capacity, a significant increase over previous rates."

That, he says means, they can produce more enriched uranium faster. And while the IAEA says that the machines have spewed out only low-enriched material suitable solely for nuclear fuel, producing enough of that can make it easy to "break out" quickly by reprocessing it to weapons- grade uranium suitable for the fissile core of warhead.

To date, Iran has produced nearly 500 kilograms of low enriched uranium, said the report - close to what Albright says is the 700 kilogram - minimum needed to produce the 20-25 kilograms needed for a simple nuclear bomb under optimal conditions.

And with Iran's centrifuges running ever more smoothly, it "is progressing toward this capability and can be expected to reach it in six months to two years," says Albright.

Additional work - making a crude bomb to contain the uranium - would take no more than a "several months," he said.

But that work could be done secretly and consecutively with the last stages of weapons-grade enrichment. With Iran limiting access of IAEA inspectors to facilities it has declared to the agency, the UN nuclear monitor is blind-sided in efforts to establish whether such covert atomic work is going on.
But Israel is too busy trying to build a coalition for the PTA for anyone to notice.


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