Top five reasons Iran has a nuclear weapons program

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A close-up of the Iranian flag.

Article Highlights

  • Check out the top 5 reasons #Iran has a nuclear weapons program. @dpletka

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  • The amount of 20% enriched uranium Iran has and is continuing to produce far exceeds any civilian requirement

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  • Here’s a tidbit from the November #IAEA report for those doubters that #Iran is interested in weapons research

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There are more, but let’s face it, if the title were Top 246 reasons, who would look?

Let’s start here, courtesy of AEI’s own Maseh Zarif, our expert on the guts of the Iranian nuclear weapons program:

• The amount of 20 percent enriched uranium Iran has and is continuing to produce far exceeds any civilian requirement it needs for the Tehran research reactor (the ostensible reason for which the regime says it needs to produce such material). The growing stockpile of this material, in fact, is shortening the time required to “break out” and produce fuel for a bomb.

• Operating the Fordow enrichment facility outside Qom—built covertly inside a mountain on an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps base—that even at full capacity (~3000 centrifuges) is not suitable for producing fuel for a civilian nuclear program; it is however, large enough to produce fuel for nuclear weapons.

• Refusing the IAEA: access to certain facilities, personnel, and documents regarding the nuclear program; implementation of the Additional Protocol that would give the IAEA greater verification authority; transparent and timely notification of its activities (e.g. at Arak, site of a reactor that will be capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium).

• The IAEA dossier in November 2011 detailed work Iran conducted in the area of weaponization, running the gamut from acquiring a weapon design to explosives testing using fissile material substitutes to experimentation relevant to testing a nuclear weapon. The agency also cited indications that Iran conducted “modeling studies” as recent as 2009. The IAEA’s reaction? – “The application of such studies to anything other than a nuclear explosive is unclear to the Agency.”

• And finally, for those doubters that Iran is really interested in actual weapons research and design (yes, you, CIA), this tidbit from the November IAEA report:

“The Agency has other information from Member States which indicates that some activities previously carried out under the AMAD Plan were resumed later, and that Mr [Mohsen]Fakhrizadeh retained the principal organizational role, first under a new organization known as the Section for Advanced Development Applications and Technologies (SADAT), which continued to report to MODAFL, and later, in mid-2008, as the head of the Malek Ashtar University of Technology (MUT) in Tehran. The Agency has been advised by a Member State that, in February 2011, Mr Fakhrizadeh moved his seat of operations from MUT to an adjacent location known  as the Modjeh Site, and that he now leads the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research. The Agency is concerned because some of the activities undertaken after 2003 would be highly relevant to a nuclear weapon program me.”

Here’s Maseh’s latest on the Iranian Program, including timelines for breakout.  Expect an update on that report next week.

Danielle Pletka is the Vice President of Foreign and Defense Policy Studies at AEI.

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