News / Middle East

Iran Encounters Nuclear Problems

Gary Thomas

New reports by Western experts say Iran’s nuclear program is faltering because of poorly functioning equipment.  But they say Iran has the capability to build at least one atomic weapon  in about six months’ time, if it chose to do so.  But, it is believed that Iran’s leadership has not yet decided to take that final step.

The new studies say the centrifuges Iran uses to produce enriched uranium are performing poorly.   The nongovernmental Institute for Science and International Security says many of the machines at the Natanz enrichment facility are old or are breaking down repeatedly.

ISIS President David Albright, the lead author of the reports, says the mechanical problems show that international sanctions have delayed Iran’s nuclear progress.

“It can’t stop them from building a bomb or making a decision [to do so]," said Albright. "But it can slow it down, it can create inhibitions against moving in that direction, and it can just generally make it difficult for Iran to get the raw materials it needs to build large numbers of centrifuges.”

But Albright adds that Iran has enough working centrifuges to turn out sufficiently pure uranium to build a nuclear bomb.

“Iran does have enough centrifuges if it wanted to go ahead and make weapon-grade uranium for a bomb," he said. "Any centrifuge can be used to make low-enriched uranium or high-enriched uranium.  So Iran has a capability to make nuclear weapons now.”

But has it decided to do so?

U.S. intelligence estimates say Iran might have technical capability to produce a nuclear bomb, although not a system to deliver one, and that Tehran has not decided to cross that line.

David Albright says the United States and its allies agree that is still the case, although there different assessments of the progress of Iran’s nuclear weapons research.

“But they all agree that no decision has been made by Iran to build weapons, that there is ambivalence about the situation because I think Iran, the Iranian regime, knows full well that if it can’t get the bomb quickly, and maybe have a plan to get more than one, that it could suffer horrible consequences that threaten the existence of the regime," said Albright.

Olli Heinonen, former deputy director-general of the U.N. monitoring agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, says there is increased concern that Iran has been stockpiling low-grade enriched uranium with the intent of turning into weapons-grade uranium.  

“With time there will be enough material for nuclear bombs if Iran does that decision, and I would say that by the end of next year there starts to be a sizeable amount of low-enriched uranium, which I think is a matter of concern to quite a few parties," said Heinonen.

But Heinonen agrees there is no clear signal that Iran has decided to build atomic weapons.

"I don’t think anyone has seen real evidence that Iran has done a firm decision to build a nuclear weapon," he said. "On the other hand, when such a decision is done, it may not be a big group of people who decide on that, and it may be very difficult to find it out until it is perhaps too late."

The IAEA is scheduled to give its new quarterly inspection report on Iran next month.   

You May Like

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces a Chaotic World and the Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid