Uranium-processing site in Isfahan 370.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Iran is expected to achieve a “critical capability” to produce sufficient
weapons-grade uranium by mid-2014 without being detected, the Institute for
Science and International Security said in a report on Tuesday.
to the Washington-based think tank, Iran would achieve this capability by
implementing its existing plans to install thousands more IR-1 centrifuges at
its declared Natanz and Fordow centrifuge sites.
To counteract this
development, the ISIS recommended that the International Atomic Energy Agency
increase inspections of Iranian centrifuge facilities to at least twice per
“However,” ISIS warned in its July report, “there is an inherent
limitation and dilemma to increasing the rate of inspections, despite their
If the United States and Israel hesitate to strike out of
fear of facing international opposition, the ISIS warned, “Iran could have time
to make enough weapons-grade uranium for one or more nuclear
According to the report, breakout times at critical capability
would be “so short” that there would not be enough time to organize an
international diplomatic or military response.
“IAEA inaction or caution
could make an international response all but impossible before Iran has produced
enough weapons-grade uranium for one or more nuclear weapons,” the ISIS report
In its recommendations, the ISIS suggested increasing the
frequency of inspections and pushing for remote monitoring of the nuclear sites
as conditions for progress in negotiations.
“The point is that by
themselves these measures are not sufficient if Iran reaches critical
capability,” the report cautioned.
According to the ISIS, there are
reasons to conclude that Iran could now be building a new centrifuge plant,
“based primarily on Iranian officials’ past statements.”
A new plant
could produce sufficient weapons-grade uranium relatively quickly if the
centrifuges worked well, the ISIS reported.
“The immediate priority must
be limiting the number and type of Iran’s centrifuges at Natanz, Fordow, or a
site not yet finished,” the ISIS stated, calling on the P5+1 negotiators to
achieve the suggested conditions and prevent the progression of the Iranian