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IAEA Report on Iran's Nuclear Program Shows Disturbing Advancements

On Friday, BPC’s Foreign Policy Project (FPP) released an analysis of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s latest report on Iran’s nuclear program, including their implications for attempts to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. See below for the full analysis.

Earlier this month, BPC released its fourth report on Iran’s nuclear development, Meeting the Challenge: Stopping the Clock. The report urges the United States to immediately adopt a triple-track strategy that simultaneously pursues diplomacy, tough sanctions and credible, visible preparations for military action on the part of the United States or Israel.

“The IAEA’s latest findings are extremely disturbing, and demonstrate that Iran is accelerating its nuclear program despite tough international sanctions. Iran has reached all-time highs in its production rate of enriched uranium, and installed and operating centrifuges,” said Dr. Michael Makovsky, Director of BPC’s FPP. “Perhaps most worrying, the previously covert Fordow facility near Qom, which began operations in December, is already quickly accelerating Iran’s capability to produce the fissile material needed for a nuclear device. We urge the Obama administration and Congress to adopt the triple-track strategy laid out in our latest report on Iran.”

For more information on the BPC’s Iran Initiative, click here.

Status of Iran’s Nuclear Program*

The latest International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on Iran’s nuclear program is particularly disturbing. In addition to confirming that Iran has begun operating the heavily fortified and previously undisclosed Fordow plant near Qom, the report shows that Iran’s program has reached all-time highs in several critical areas:

Production of 3.5% enriched uranium at fastest rate ever, twice as fast as pre-Stuxnet.

Between Nov. 2011 and Feb. 2012, Iran produced average of 116kg/month.

  • Fastest previous rate (May 2011): 104kg/month;
  • 2010 average: 83 kg/month;
  • 2009 average: 56 kg/month.

Known 3.5% enriched uranium stockpile reaches 3,020kg; can be used to fuel nuclear reactors. Enough, with further enrichment to 90%, for about one and a half nuclear weapons.

Number of centrifuges at Natanz?Iran’s largest enrichment plant?reaches new high.

  • 8,808 centrifuges being fed uranium, most ever;
  • 9,156 centrifuges installed total; 6,177 additional centrifuges being installed.

Production rate of 20% enriched uranium at fastest rate ever.

  • Combined (Fordow + Natanz) 20% enriched production rate: 6.8kg/month;
  • Total (Fordow + Natanz) 20% enriched stockpile: 74kg.

As a result of these developments, the time Iran would need to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon has fallen:

Iran could produce 20 kilograms of highly enriched uranium, enough for a weapon, in as little as 43 days.

  • In November 2011, that number was closer to 60 days.

That window could fall to just 11 days by February 2013.

  • If Iran continues to produce 20% enriched uranium at its current rate, that is when it will have stockpiled enough to produce HEU for a weapon.

Time is running out to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. To meet this most pressing national security challenge, our February 2012 report, Meeting the Challenge: Stopping the Clock, co-chaired by former Senator Charles Robb and General (ret.) Charles Wald, called for a robust and comprehensive triple-track strategy, involving the simultaneous pursuit of diplomacy, sanctions, and visible, credible preparations for a military option.




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To view and share larger versions of the charts and graphs above, click here.

* As of latest IAEA report: “Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of Security Council resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Board of Governors Report, International Atomic Energy Agency, February 24, 2012 (GOV/2012/9)

Prepared by Blaise Misztal.

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