Iran keeping nuke options open

CIA: Despite technical problems, Iran making advances in nuclear technology.

March 31, 2010 16:45
2 minute read.
Ahmadinjead inspects an Iranian nuclear power plant

Nuclear Power plant 311 AP. (photo credit: Associated Press)


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A newly released CIA report claims that Iran "continues to develop a range of capabilities that could be applied to producing nuclear weapons," and despite their program having technical issues, they are "keeping the door open to the possibility of building a nuclear weapon," the Washington Post reported Tuesday.

According to the annual CIA's report to congress Iran expanded their nuclear infrastructure and uranium enrichment plan in violation of the UN Security Council resolutions, which since 2006 have required Teheran to cease the program.

The report continues that although there seem to be strong incentives for Iran to shut down the program, both in regards to international pressure and internal malfunctioning of the centrifuges, Iran is not planning on terminating its nuclear program.

The Iranian uranium-enrichment facility at Natanz produced approximately 1.8 tons of low-enriched uranium hexafluoride this year in comparison to its previous years' turnout of a half a ton, the Post quoted the CIA report as saying.

The number of centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium gas by spinning it at high speeds, at Natanz increased during the first 11 months of last year from around 5,000 to 8,700. While the increase in centrifuges indicates Iran's intent to continue with the program, only a rumored 3,900 seem to be working, which would imply that the Iranians are having problems with their machines.

In 2009 Iran acknowledged that it is building a second gas-centrifuge plant near the city of Qom, where they hope to house approximately 3,000 machines. While the US gained intelligence of this development two years prior to their disclosure, US officials say that the facility is 'too small for nonmilitary uranium enrichment' and that it's a clear sign that Iran's nuclear program is designed for producing weapons.

The report continued with information on Iran's missile development, in which it stated that Iran is building more short and medium range ballistic missiles, and that production "remains one of its highest priorities."

The Washington Post also mentioned that "assistance from China, North Korea and Russia helped move Iran toward self-sufficiency in the production of ballistic missiles."

The report also says that North Korea now has "the capability to produce nuclear weapons with a yield of roughly a couple kilotons of TNT equivalent," where a kiloton is equal to 1,000 tons of TNT.

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