Iran could make atom bomb material despite hurdles-report

October 18, 2011 12:29
1 minute read.

VIENNA - Iran's nuclear program is struggling with low-performing enrichment machines but it would still be able to produce material that could be used for atomic bombs, according to a US think tank.

In a report coinciding with rising tension between Iran and the West, the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) also said tougher sanctions could make it more difficult for the Islamic state to obtain key parts for its uranium enrichment work.

The ISIS report's findings, published late on Monday, dovetail with Western allegations that Iran's nuclear enrichment program makes little sense from a commercial point of view and that it is part of a covert bid to develop an atomic bomb capability.

ISIS said Iran's main enrichment complex at Natanz "is unlikely to ever produce enough LEU (low-enriched uranium) for a nuclear power reactor the size of" Bushehr.

In September, a U.N. nuclear watchdog report said Iran had begun installing two newer versions for larger-scale testing. Such machines would allow Iran to produce refined uranium much faster - potentially also reducing the time needed to make weapons-grade material - but analysts say it remains unclear whether it can build them in sufficient numbers.

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