First Published: 2013-01-15

 

Iran close to ‘critical capability’

 

US think tank estimates Iran is on track to be able to produce material for at least one nuclear bomb by mid-2014.

 

Middle East Online

Iranium in 2014

WASHINGTON - Iran is on track to be able to produce material for at least one nuclear bomb by mid-2014 as sanctions hit its economy but fail to stop the atomic program, a US think tank said Monday.

The Institute for Science and International Security, a private group opposed to nuclear proliferation, called for tougher US economic sanctions against Iran and pressure on major trading partners to isolate Tehran.

The group looked at Iran's "critical capability," defined as the point at which the clerical regime will be able to produce enough weapons-grade uranium or separated plutonium to build one or more bombs before foreign detection.

"Based on the current trajectory of Iran's nuclear program, we estimate that Iran could reach this critical capability in mid-2014," the think tank said in a report.

The think tank based its assessment on the growth in Iran's stockpile of enriched uranium and number of centrifuges and what it described as an uncooperative stance by Tehran toward the UN atomic agency.

The institute said it was "deeply skeptical" of the potential for preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons and painted a dire picture of the consequences if the regime developed the bomb.

The think tank said that a nuclear weapon would "embolden Iranian aggression and subversion" and questioned whether Iran's leadership, with its "apocalyptic messianism and exaltation of martyrdom," could be deterred from using a bomb.

The report also said that an Iranian nuclear arsenal could motivate Saudi Arabia to develop a nuclear program, fueling proliferation in a region where Israel is the sole, albeit undeclared, state with nuclear weapons.

The United States has championed sanctions aimed at crippling the Iranian economy by cutting off its oil exports, while Israel has not ruled out the possibility of a military strike on Iran.

Critics of the approach say that sanctions are hurting ordinary Iranians and that the Iranian leadership, drawing lessons from Pakistan and North Korea, wants to use the threat of going nuclear to ensure the regime's own survival.

US intelligence agencies have not concluded that Iran has decided to build a nuclear bomb, saying only that Tehran is keeping the option open. Iran says that its nuclear program is for civilian purposes.

 

Yemen warring parties 'closer' to agreement

Major assaults target IS jihadists in Iraq, Syria

Juncker warns Ankara against migrant deal threats

New Afghan Taliban leader named

Annual Jewish pilgrimage starts in Tunisia

Tunisia tourism sees 'slight recovery'

UN envoy calls for economic rescue plan for Yemen

Bahrain jails 19 for attacks on police

Up to 30 dead in shipwreck off Libya

UN says Syrians will 'starve' unless aid improves

Christian homes set ablaze in Egyptian village 'love story'

Kuwait's main opposition group ends polls boycott

Twin offensives on IS edge forward in Syria, Iraq

Private firms to help in hunt for Egyptair black boxes

New Israeli defence minister's tough talk to be put to the test

Syria most dangerous place for health workers

Concern for civilians trapped in Iraq's Fallujah

Brent rises past $50 a barrel

Iraq PM urges protesters to stay home

Israeli air force carries out strikes on Hamas sites in Gaza

Sudan accuses UN official of 'false' reports on displaced

Egypt quashes prison sentences for 47 protesters

At least 5 drown off Libya coast

Coalition airstrike kills six Yemen civilians 'by mistake'

Erdogan chairs first meeting of new Turkey cabinet

Pope prays to 'convert hearts' of ISIS extremists

Egypt expels French journalist amid crackdown on media

Israeli rights group gives up on army complaints system

Hamas-led council backs executions without Abbas approval

Netanyahu forms ultra-nationalist Israel government

Syrian base used by Russia damaged in IS attack

Kurdish, Arab forces announce anti-IS offensive north of Syria's Raqa

Palestinian PM dismisses Netanyahu proposal

Israel PM's travel expenses under scrutiny

EgyptAir victims' relatives give samples for DNA tests

Iran sends new delegation to Saudi for hajj talks

Hardline cleric elected head of Iran's Assembly of Experts

Civilians trapped as Fallujah siege tightens

Iraq's Fallujah offensive draws attention from embattled PM

Turkey incoming PM unveils cabinet

US, Russia scramble to save Syria truce

Libyan coastguards intercept 550 bound for Europe

Campus bomb kills two in Yemen's Sanaa

Saudi soldier killed in landmine blast on Yemen border

Over 148 killed in IS bombings in Syria regime heartland