The Iranian nuclear program: timelines, data, and estimates

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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visits the Natanz uranium enrichment facilities April 8, 2008, 200 miles south of Tehran.

Iran is at the threshold of a nuclear weapons capability. Sanctions, direct action, and diplomatic tools have neither changed Iran's nuclear policy nor had a visible effect on the enrichment program, including the growing stockpile of 19.75% LEU. Obtaining weapons-grade high-enriched uranium (HEU) is the most difficult and technically challenging obstacle to acquiring a nuclear weapon. Assessing the "breakout" time-the time required to convert low-enriched uranium (LEU) to weapons-grade HEU-is therefore a critical component of determining progress toward a nuclear weapons capability.    \

AEI's Critical Threats Project has produced a capabilities assessment of the time required for Iran to acquire enough weapons-grade uranium to fuel one nuclear weapon if it proceeds to break out in 2012. It does not assess Iran's intentions to weaponize or to purse break-out scenarios, but rather focuses entirely on technical feasibility. The assessment also provides scenarios for the growth of Iran's 19.75% LEU stockpile, background data on processes involved in a nuclear weapons program and Iran's reported progress, and imagery of the primary enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordow.

Please read the full text at the Critical Threats Project.

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