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
  • 21
    MON
  • 22
    TUE
  • 23
    WED
  • 24
    THU
  • 25
    FRI
Wednesday, April 23, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Graduation day: How dads’ involvement impacts higher education success

Join a diverse group of panelists — including sociologists, education experts, and students — for a discussion of how public policy and culture can help families lay a firmer foundation for their children’s educational success, and of how the effects of paternal involvement vary by socioeconomic background.

Thursday, April 24, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Getting it right: A better strategy to defeat al Qaeda

This event will coincide with the release of a new report by AEI’s Mary Habeck, which analyzes why current national security policy is failing to stop the advancement of al Qaeda and its affiliates and what the US can do to develop a successful strategy to defeat this enemy.

Friday, April 25, 2014 | 9:15 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.
Obamacare’s rocky start and uncertain future

During this event, experts with many different views on the ACA will offer their predictions for the future.   

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