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Thursday, December 30, 2010

US fears Iran will use new technology to speed nuke program

London's Financial Times reports that the United States fears that Iran will shorten the time it needs to obtain nuclear weapons over the coming months by using new technology.
Washington is particularly concerned that Tehran might deploy a new generation of centrifuges to enrich uranium, a process that can yield nuclear fuel and weapons-grade material.

Since such devices are three times faster than the centrifuges Iran relies on now, officials say they would reduce the “dash time” needed to develop a nuclear weapon.

“If they were to deploy large numbers of these second-generation machines then it could dramatically reduce dash time,” said an administration official.

The US would look at the next quarterly report of the UN nuclear watchdog to see if Iran was making progress with the new centrifuges, he said.

The previous such report, in November, indicated Iran planned to deploy several hundred new centrifuges for “research and development” at its once-secret nuclear site near Qom.

David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security (Isis) in Washington said: “The next crisis will probably be over the question of deployment of these advanced centrifuges.”

Iran has been working for years to build a new generation of centrifuges. But they have yet to be deployed in significant numbers in spite of announcements by Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, the president, that the effort had succeeded.

The Obama administration says it would take Iran one to two years between reaching a decision to make a bomb and producing enough highly enriched uranium for one weapon. That would leave plenty of time for detection by UN inspectors – unless the centrifuges are at a secret site.

Some outside commentators say far less time would be needed – about six months, according to Isis. Iran says its nuclear programme is purely peaceful.

Commentators agree the calculations would change greatly if Iran deployed more efficient centrifuges.
Hmmm. Is there another Stuxnet worm in the making to cope with this?

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At 10:38 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

According to Moshe Ya'alon, Iran's nuclear program has been delayed 2-3 years. That buys time for Israel to stop it but sabotaging Iran's nuclear program isn't a long term solution.


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