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Iran's Nuclear Breakout

IsraCast: Will US or Israel know when Iran decides to 'break out' and start producing weapons grade enriched uranium?

General Amos Yadlin: "Iran is now capable of producing nuclear weapon within a number of months to a year"

"Right combination of dialogue and sanctions can still force Iran to halt nuclear weapons development"

General Amos Yadlin, the chief of IDF intelligence, has revealed that Iran not only has the capability to produce weapons grade uranium but also a delivery system and the technology for constructing a nuclear bomb. The intelligence chief presented the latest Israeli assessment in a closed-door briefing to the Knesset foreign affairs and defense committee.

Although 93% enriched uranium is required for the actual production of nuclear weapons, the Iranians have the capability to start producing whenever they decide

"Winds of dialogue may be blowing in the West but Iran's nuclear weapons clock is still ticking" - that's the assessment of General Amos Yadlin, the chief of IDF intelligence. General Yadlin disclosed: "Iran is now capable of producing a nuclear weapon within a number of months to one year". He explained that 4000 uranium centrifuges are now producing on a daily basis, 1 to 2 kg of enrich uranium of 4 1/2% grades. Although 93% enriched uranium is required for the actual production of nuclear weapons, the Iranians have the capability to start producing whenever they decide. At present, their strategy is to continue producing quantities of uranium at 4 1/2% in order to forestall international pressure. They claim they needed this uranium for the 30 nuclear reactors they plan on building for "peaceful purposes". General Yadlin said the problem was that many countries are ready to accept Iran's explanation that is not more than a pretext for covering their nuclear weapons development.

Amos Yadlin

Not only can the Iranians now produce weapons grade uranium, they also have rockets capable of delivering nuclear warheads as well as the technology to construct a nuclear weapon.

And once Iran does break out of its 'peaceful purposes program' , anyone who wants to act militarily to prevent it will have to act within months

Therefore, Iran can now go nuclear whenever it wants to - it's a political decision not a technical problem. The Israeli assessment is that the Iranian leadership supports the nuclear weapons program and it is not the pet project of President Achmadenijad.  Therefore, the outcome of Iran's presidential election in June will not affect the nuclear weapons program. Although the drop in world oil prices has hit the Iranian economy to the tune of $20 billion, it is not impacting on Iran's nuclear weapons project. In spite of all these factors, General Yadlin still believed the diplomatic campaign to deter Iran as not lost. He was of the view that the right combination of dialogue and sanctions could still force Iran to halt its nuclear weapons development.

The Iranian Missile Range

So much for General Yadlin's briefing. The question is no longer can but when will the Iranians decide to switch their 4000 centrifuges from producing low-grade enriched uranium to weapons grade of 93%. Will the US, Israel or anyone else be able to detect the step that will produce the first Iranian nuclear weapon? And once Iran does break out of its 'peaceful purposes program' , anyone who wants to act militarily to prevent it will have to act within months.

David Essing

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