Sunday, January 23, 2011
Iran has strengthened its nuclear activities, according to a report
VIENNA (Reuters) - Iran has the technical capacity to manufacture nuclear weapons and its atomic activities do not appear to have stalled, says a scientific report, contradicting U.S. estimates.
The findings of this report, released Friday by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), may fuel the debate about the state of Iran's nuclear program while talks between Iran and the Six were held on this Turkey on Friday and Saturday.
"Calculations based on data from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) show that Iran has increased its performance enhancement over last year," said Ivanka Barzaskha, a researcher at the Fas.
"Contrary to assertions by American officials and many experts, Iran clearly has not slowed in its nuclear program."
Western powers suspect Tehran of wanting to acquire the nuclear bomb under cover of a civilian nuclear program, which Tehran denies.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently said that sanctions against Iran to convince it to suspend its uranium enrichment activities affecting its nuclear program.
These are the first words of a U.S. official reports of an impact of sanctions on the Iranian program.
In early January, a record of Israeli intelligence indicated that Iran believed that Israel would not be able to acquire nuclear weapons before 2015. A former general had also decided against any pre-emptive strikes on Iranian nuclear sites.
This estimate reflects the confidence of Israel in the international sanctions, including the United States, and covert actions designed to retard or stop the Iranian program to enrich uranium.
Some analysts believe Iran's nuclear program is experiencing technical difficulties for several years, partly because of centrifuges used, modeled on a European model of the 1970s, prone to overheating and vibration.
Tougher sanctions might complicate the task of Iran, including procurement of equipment and facilities necessary for the production of new centrifuges, more modern and better adapted.
Sabotage, such as that related to computer virus Stuxnet that may have been created to sabotage the Iranian nuclear program, could also slow down the Iranian activities.
Iran has also accused the West and Israel of being behind the deaths of two nuclear scientists last year, a charge described as "absurd" by Washington.
"The Iranian nuclear program met many setbacks, might save time for diplomacy and delay military attacks," say two experts from the proliferation, David Albright and Andrea Stricker.
"But it is impossible to determine exactly when Iran will possess nuclear weapons," they note.
According Barzashka, the Fas, the ability to enrich uranium grew last year, thereby reducing the time needed for making atomic weapons.
"The increased capacity is due to an improvement in the performance of centrifuges," she wrote in her report.
She says there is "no doubt" that Iran has the technical capacity to manufacture a nuclear bomb if it so wishes.
"But the ambiguity remains about the intentions of Iran. Tehran may want to retain the option of developing nuclear weapons in an undefined future."