Iran brings forward nuclear timetable
Analysis: If Islamic Republic maintains current pace of uranium enrichment at Natanz, Fordo facilities, it can become nuclear power in two years unless stopped
Published: 07.30.12, 00:05 / Israel Opinion
Iran does not have a nuclear bomb, but if it continues to enrich uranium pace at the current pace, it will become a "nuclear threshold" country within a year. According to intelligence officials, there is a possibility that between mid-2014 and the end of that year the Islamic Republic will become a nuclear power with more than one bomb in its arsenal. To understand how Iran is advancing its nuclear program one must first understand how a nuclear warhead is produced. The production of a nuclear warhead similar to bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima requires some 25 kilos (55 pounds) of highly-enriched natural uranium containing +90% U-235, the fissile isotope of uranium.
The most difficult stage in this process is enriching uranium to a low concentration level (LEU). One nuclear bomb requires 1,600 kilos (3,530 pounds) of low-enriched uranium that has a 3.5-5% concentration of U-235. The next stage is enriching the uranium to a 20% concentration level. Between 220 and 260 kilos (485-573 pounds) of 20% enriched uranium are required to produce weapons grade uranium, which must contain highly enriched uranium (HEU) with an isotopic concentration greater than 90% U-235. Upon reaching this stage, it takes only a few months to produce enough HEU for a number of nuclear bombs.
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