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

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license 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.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid