Former inspector: Iran 'one year from' bomb material

January 12, 2012 14:25

VIENNA - Having switched production of higher-grade enriched uranium to a new, underground site, Iran is now just a year or so away from having enough such material for a nuclear bomb, a former head of UN nuclear inspections said.

However, Olli Heinonen wrote in an article published on Thursday that building a stock of some 250 kg of 20-percent enriched uranium - a form that could within weeks be further purified to the 90-percent weapons grade - did not automatically mean Iran could deploy a bomb without further engineering work.

Heinonen, a Finn, was deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency until 2010 and is now at Harvard University. He made the prediction days after Iran confirmed the start of 20-percent enrichment inside the Fordow mountain, fueling Western fears Tehran is seeking atomic arms.

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