Iran nuclear threat overshadows talks

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European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton of the UK (front L) walks with Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari before their meeting on May 23, 2012 in Baghdad, Iraq. Representatives from the P5+1 (or E3+3) group of nations are meeting in Baghdad to hold talks aimed at persuading Iran to suspend their Tehran nuclear programme.

The threat of Iran’s illicit nuclear program continues to grow as another round of meetings between P5+1 and Iranian negotiators ends today. Iran refuses to dismantle and end that program while it simultaneously expands its enrichment output and future capacity. Its ongoing enrichment activities at the Natanz and Fordow facilities are increasing its enriched uranium stockpile, which is now large enough to produce fuel for five nuclear weapons after conversion to weapons-grade. Steady 20 percent enriched uranium accumulation is also reducing the time Iran would need to produce weapons-grade uranium for a warhead. The recent installation of infrastructure, most notably additional centrifuges and support equipment at the less vulnerable Fordow facility, could further shorten Iran’s potential timeline for producing nuclear weapons fuel. The existence of undeclared, covert enrichment sites cannot be ruled out, moreover, given Iran’s deceptive record and the regime’s failure to provide transparency to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Iran also recently signaled its intent to continue pursuing multiple paths to obtaining nuclear weapons fuel in moving ahead with work on the heavy water reactor at Arak. The Arak reactor will be capable of producing two warheads’ worth weapons-grade plutonium annually once it begins operating.

Please read the full text at the Critical Threats Project.

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