Reuters reports that a soon-to-be-released report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will show that Iran is making advancements in developing nuclear infrastructure capable of providing Tehran with the option of building uranium- and plutonium-based nuclear weapons.
A report by the U.N. nuclear watchdog is expected to show that Iran is pressing ahead with its nuclear program by further increasing its capacity to enrich uranium, diplomats said on Monday.
Regarding the plutonium track, the IAEA is expected to report that Iran is making progress on activating its reactor at Arak, and Reuters conveys the assessment of Western experts indicating that the reactor “could yield plutonium for bombs once operational.” Regarding the uranium track, this week’s IAEA report will describe the ongoing installation of advanced IR-2m centrifuges, which are capable of enriching nuclear material at a pace orders of magnitude faster than previous technology.
Outgoing nuclear energy chief Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, a hardliner whom Rouhani has replaced with a pragmatist, said this month that Iran now has about 1,000 IR-2m centrifuges – a statement the diplomats said seemed credible.
Though the advanced machines are not yet believed to be operating, the report will be scrutinized for any sign of increased readiness to go into service, they said.
At stake is when Iran will be capable of conducting an undetected breakout, rushing across the nuclear finish line after a political decision is made to do so, but without the West having sufficient time to detect, assess, and intervene to stop the decision. Reuters quotes a report released last month by the U.S.-based Institute for Science and International Security evaluating that Iran will have the capability by mid-2014.
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