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.

 

IS jihadists move closer than ever to central Damascus

UN confirms Palmyra temple destroyed

Turkey police raid anti-Erdogan media group after British reporters jailed

Shebab attack Somalia AU base

Over 10,000 Icelanders ready to welcome Syrians

Turkey government says it 'had no role' in reporters' arrest

IS claims Tripoli car bomb near oil firm

Dispute with Israel government keeps Christian schools shut

Kuwait charges 24 'linked to Iran' with plotting attacks

New Turkey caretaker government holds first meeting

Dozens of Lebanon protesters occupy environment ministry

Will Erdogan's political gamble solve Turkey poll impasse?

Libya loyalist forces battle IS jihadists in Benghazi

South Sudan peace deal in jeopardy

Pressure builds on Europe as refugee crisis exposes splits

Israel confirms jail for Druze ex-MP over visit to Syria

Egypt much delayed elections to start on October 17

Palmyra temple appears ‘largely intact’ after ISIS blast

Turkey to offer cash rewards for tips on ‘terrorists’

Yemen children's hospital on the verge of shutting down

In gruesome video, ISIS shows burning alive of Iraq Shiite fighters

Four years after famine, situation in Somalia remains alarming

A year on, recapture of Yazidi hub remains a distant prospect

EU leaders call for action to defend migrants’ 'dignity'

IS blows up parts of famed Palmyra temple

Deadly fire at housing complex of Aramco in Saudi Arabia

In historic first, Saudi Arabia allows women to run in local elections

Israel repels protesters with tear gas at separation barrier in West Bank

ISIS brutality in Syria: Over 90 people executed in one month

Bashir to visit China despite international arrest warrant

Egypt summons British envoy in row over Al-Jazeera trial

Yemen war seeks to stop ‘Iran expansion’ in Arab region

Lebanon protesters to government: Meet our demands of face escalation

Calls for action on refugee crisis mount after Austrian tragedy

Kuwait lawmaker describes Iran as 'true enemy' of Gulf Arabs

Two French journalists charged with bid to blackmail Morocco King

Algeria detains former intelligence chief

Kurdish forces free seven Iraq villages from clasps of ISIS

Toll in Libya shipwreck tragedy rises to 111

Egypt court hands Al-Jazeera reporters three years in prison

UN to host new round of Libya peace talks next week

US names ‘First Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs’

Mounting death toll of security forces triggers questions in Turkey

Deadly terrorist blast rocks Karanah suburb in Bahrain

Brief truce between Syria regime and rebels collapses