Iran has enough fissile material to produce up to 50 nuclear weapons: Report

March 5th, 2009 - 12:09 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Mar 5 (ANI): Iran has ready access to enough fissile material to produce up to 50 nuclear weapons and can develop a nuclear bomb within a year, according to a panel of experts advising the Obama Administration officials.

William Schneider, Jr., chairman of the Defense Science Board and a former under secretary of state in the Reagan administration, offered those estimates on Wednesday announcing the release of a new Presidential Task Force report on Iran by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

The report, entitled Preventing a Cascade of Instability: U.S. Engagement to Check Iranian Nuclear Progress, was signed by a team of policymakers, former officials and Iran scholars that included Senator Evan Bayh, FOX News reported.

Also signing on to the early draft form were two individuals expected to play significant roles in the development of the Obama Administrations foreign policy: special envoy on Iran Dennis Ross and Robert Einhorn, a former assistant Secretary of Sstate who is expected to accept a senior position dealing with non-proliferation issues.

The cascade refers to a set of 164 high-speed centrifuges used to enrich uranium to the high levels necessary to produce a nuclear weapon.

Recently, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran has enough low enriched uranium to produce a nuclear weapon, and currently has 5,600 centrifuges operating at its pilot enrichment facility in Natanz.

Iran has declared its intention to add another 45,000 centrifuges over the next five years.

But Schneider said Iran has already perfected the industrial aspects of enriching uranium, and can easily develop a nuclear weapon long before 2014.

Moreover, Schneider warned that the fundamentalist Islamic regime in Tehran has access to significant amounts of the raw fissile material that would be the core ingredient in such a nuclear arsenal.

Neither of the other two panel members who appeared alongside Schneider — Eugene Habiger, former commander in chief of the US Strategic Command, and Nancy Soderberg, a former ambassador to the UN — disputed Schneiders claims. (ANI)

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