The Iranian nuclear program: Timelines, data, and estimates

Reuters

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (2nd L) attends the unveiling ceremony of new nuclear projects in Tehran February 15, 2012.

KEY FINDINGS

IRAN IS DEVELOPING A RAPID NUCLEAR WEAPONS BREAKOUT CAPABILITY BY REDUCING THE TIME IT NEEDS TO PRODUCE FUEL FOR AN ATOMIC WEAPON.

  • Iran would need 4.3 MONTHS to produce 25 kg of weapons-grade uranium and 1.9 MONTHS to produce 15 kg of weapons-grade uranium at the buried Fordow enrichment facility.* IT CAN CUT THESE TIMES SIGNIFICANTLY USING THE NEWLY INSTALLED CENTRIFUGES AT FORDOW. 

  • Iran would need 3 WEEKS to produce 25 kg of weapons-grade uranium and 1 WEEK to produce 15 kg of weapons-grade uranium at the larger Natanz enrichment facility.*

  • These estimates are based on data from Iran’s declared operating facilities. The existence of undeclared (covert) enrichment sites, which cannot be ruled out given Iran’s record of deception, would have an impact on breakout estimates.

IRAN IS HARDENING ITS ENRICHMENT CAPACITY AND INCREASING INFRASTRUCTURE FOR ~20% LOW-ENRICHED URANIUM (LEU) PRODUCTION.

  • growing proportion of Iran’s near-20% enriched uranium is being produced in the more hardened Fordow facility built under a small mountain, rather than in the more vulnerable underground Natanz facility.

  • The recent installation of 1,076 additional centrifuges at Fordow has more than doubled capacity at that facility. 

IRAN’s <5% AND NEAR-20% ENRICHED URANIUM PRODUCTION IS AT HISTORICALLY HIGH RATES.

IRAN HAS PRODUCED ENOUGH LOW-ENRICHED URANIUM TO FUEL FIVE NUCLEAR WEAPONSAFTER CONVERSION TO WEAPONS-GRADE.   

IRAN IS PURSUING MULTIPLE PATHS TO OBTAINING NUCLEAR WEAPONS FUEL.

  • Iran recently told the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it plans to begin operating the Arak heavy water reactor in Q3 2013. This reactor will be capable of producing two warheads’ worth weapons-grade plutonium per year once operational.

*Estimates assume Natanz and Fordow are used with the operational capacity reflected in the August 2012 IAEA report. Iran may need 15-25 kg weapons-grade uranium for an implosion-type bomb design depending on its level of technical ability. 

Please read the full text at Critical Threats.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Maseh
Zarif
  • Maseh Zarif is the deputy director and Iran research Team Lead for the American Enterprise Institute’s Critical Threats Project. He works on national security issues related to the Middle East and South Asia, with a particular focus on Iran’s nuclear program and its regional activities. He has written for The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, National Review Online, and Foreign Policy, among others, and has appeared on CNN and Fox. Before joining AEI, he worked for several years in corporate finance as an analyst and a consultant.

  • Phone: 202.862.5929
    Email: maseh.zarif@aei.org

What's new on AEI

image The Census Bureau and Obamacare: Dumb decision? Yes. Conspiracy? No.
image A 'three-state solution' for Middle East peace
image Give the CBO long-range tools
image The coming collapse of India's communists
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 14
    MON
  • 15
    TUE
  • 16
    WED
  • 17
    THU
  • 18
    FRI
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 | 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Calling treason by its name: A conversation with Liam Fox

Join us at AEI as the Right Honorable Liam Fox sits down with Marc Thiessen to discuss and debate whether America’s intelligence agencies have infringed on the personal privacy of US citizens.

Thursday, April 17, 2014 | 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
The curmudgeon's guide to getting ahead

How can young people succeed in workplaces dominated by curmudgeons who are judging their every move? At this AEI book event, bestselling author and social scientist Charles Murray will offer indispensable advice for navigating the workplace, getting ahead, and living a fulfilling life.

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled today.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.