Ahmadinejad at the Natanz enrichment plant
WASHINGTON – The Iranian nuclear clock is not slowing down, claims Prof. Gary Milhollin, director of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, an organization that tracks the proliferation of nuclear weapons throughout the world.
Just days after the Obama administration leaked to the New York Times about delays and technical problems plaguing Iran's nuclear program, Prof. Milhollin claims that Iran is continuing its nuclear developments on schedule.
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In an article in The Atlantic, Milhollin warns that the claims being made by the administration that Iran's capabilities have been dimished thus creating more time to convince the regime to change its path are false.
"Sad to say, the assumption is false. The clock is still ticking, vigorously," writes Milhollin. "By the beginning of this year, Iran had produced enough low-enriched uranium to fuel two nuclear weapons if the uranium were further enriched to weapon-grade. By now, Iran has added almost enough of this low-enriched uranium to fuel a third weapon, and by the middle of next year (at the current production rate), it will probably produce enough to fuel a fourth."
Milhollin also warns that Iran started enriching uranium to a higher grade during February of this year, reaching 90% of the required enrichment to produce a nuclear weapon.
"All this is happening at a time when Iran is successfully fielding ballistic missiles that can carry a nuclear payload far enough to reach Israel," Milhollin writes.
Additional secret facilities?
While the Obama administration is claiming that it will take Iran another year to obtain weapons-grade uranium, Milhollin reminds readers that "the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), while acknowledging that it could, indeed, take this long, says also that it could take as little as three months."
According to him, there are additional unknowns in the equation, such as the existence of additional secret nuclear facilities such as the one recently discovered at Qom. If such facilities do exist, he states, they render the administration's calculations meaningless.
Milhollin charges, "But why quibble about how long the final phase of bomb making might take? Instead, we should keep our eyes on the big fact here, which is that Iran is fast approaching the status of a 'virtual' nuclear weapon state – one with the ability to kick out UN inspectors and build a handful of nuclear warheads."
He concludes, "This is not an argument for bombing Iran, by Israel or anyone else. But it is a warning -- a warning that we must confront the growth of Iran's nuclear capability, and not be lulled into imagining that it's not real."
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