Iran Nuclear NewsIran has enough uranium 'to build a nuclear bomb'

Iran has enough uranium ‘to build a nuclear bomb’

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ImageDaily Telegraph: In their first assessment of the Islamic Republic's nuclear programme since Barack Obama became US president, atomic inspectors disclosed that Tehran's leaders understated by a third how much uranium they had at their disposal.

The Daily Telegraph

Iran has enough enriched uranium to build one nuclear bomb, the United Nations has confirmed for the first time.

By Tim Shipman in Washington

ImageIn their first assessment of the Islamic Republic's nuclear programme since Barack Obama became US president, atomic inspectors disclosed that Tehran's leaders understated by a third how much uranium they had at their disposal.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said that Iran now has amassed a stockpile totalling one ton of uranium which could easily be made into weapons-grade material with further purification.

In total Iran has stockpiled 2,227 pounds of low-enriched uranium at its Natanz nuclear plant but that was 460 pounds more than the Iranian government had previously disclosed.

The news is likely to cause a new flurry of concern in Israel, where politicians have expressed determination to prevent Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has vowed to wipe their nation off the face of the earth, from getting his finger on the nuclear trigger.

The revelations will also be a challenge for Mr Obama, who has vowed to reach out to Iran, a policy critics believe will do little more than buy time for Tehran to develop its nuclear weapons programme to the stage where it has an arsenal capable of deterring an external attack.

The IAEA report said aside from the 3,936 centrifuges actively enriching uranium, another 1,476 were undergoing tests without nuclear material in them, and 125 more had been installed but remained stationary.

The U.N. watchdog said Iran had increased the number of centrifuges refining uranium by only 136 from 3,800 in November, giving rise to hopes that Iran has slowed the pace of its nuclear development to avoid provoking the new US president.

"We see the pace of installing and bringing centrifuges into operation has slowed quite considerably since August," a senior U.N. official said.

But the report was critical of Iran's refusal to allow IAEA inspectors to investigate Western allegations of past covert atom bomb research.

It found that Iran was barring inspectors from doing checks at its planned Arak heavy water reactor, where Western officials fear the Iranians are trying to extract plutonium for further bombs from spent nuclear fuel rods.

The report warned that as long as Iran continued to withhold access to documentation, Iranian officials, and sites, the IAEA would be unable to verify whether Iranian nuclear activity was peaceful or not.

The United States urged Iran to give up its enrichment activities and said Tehran's refusal to respond constructively to IAEA requests over its programme was "deeply troubling."

"We view this report as another opportunity lost to resolve international concerns," State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid said.

"Absent Iranian compliance with its international nuclear obligations and transparency with the IAEA, the international community cannot have confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program," he added.

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