TEL AVIV – The deal between Iran and Western powers leaves Tehran just two months away from enriching enough uranium to assemble one nuclear weapon, according to an analysis by Olli Heinonen, the former International Atomic Energy Agency inspector.
Heinonen was the IAEA’s deputy director-general for safeguards until 2010.
In an email to WND, he explained that the deal that requires Iran to cap its uranium enrichment at 5 percent instead of its current 20 percent constantly would leave the country two months away from the technical ability to build a nuke.
“Let us look at the current the facts on the ground. With Iran’s inventory of 20% enriched uranium, it would take about 2 weeks using 6000 IR-1 centrifuges, operating in tandem cascades, to produce enough weapons grade material for one nuclear device. If Iran uses 3-5 % enriched uranium as feed material at all its currently installed 18,000 IR-1 centrifuges at Natanz and Fordow, the same result would be achieved in two months.
“The current agreement retains Iran’s fleet of more than 18000 IR-1 centrifuges. Operational restrictions are placed that allow 10000 centrifuges to continue to enrich at up to 5% at any given point of time. These measures, together with a cessation of 20% enriched uranium production and conversion of the 20%-level stockpiles to oxides, extend the current breakout times to about two months.”
The former IAEA inspector dubbed the agreement “important” and a “first step” that “slows down Iran’s nuclear program.” However, he warned against interpreting the agreement as a “rollback” of Iran’s nuclear program.
Heinonen said he fears Iran could retain some undeclared nuclear sites not covered in the deal.
“The enrichment and inspection measures in this agreement cover Iran’s declared facilities,” he wrote. “The presence of any undeclared facilities however changes the picture.”
Heinonen said the IAEA “remains unable to provide credible assurances on the absence of undeclared nuclear facilities and activities.”
Further, he warned of a loophole in the agreement regarding Iran’s centrifuges.
“The agreement does not require Iran to provide a full inventory of manufactured centrifuges until now, which leaves an uncertainty to the estimates on the true breakout capability of Iran.”