American physicist David Albright, the founder and president of the prominent Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security recently warned that the Islamic Republic of Iran is dangerously close to acquiring a nuclear bomb.
Albright, a former UN weapons inspector in Iraq and regarded as a world expert on nuclear weapons programs, summarized his conclusions in a report published on Jan. 8: “How quickly could Iran make nuclear weapons today?”
The Iranian regime could potentially have enough uranium to produce several nuclear bombs, according to Albright.
“Iran can quickly make enough weapon-grade uranium for many nuclear weapons, something it could not do in 2003. Today, it would need only about a week to produce enough for its first nuclear weapon. It could have enough weapon-grade uranium for six weapons in one month, and after five months of producing weapon-grade uranium, it could have enough for twelve,” Albright assessed.
“Iran could also immediately start preparatory work on transforming the weapons-grade uranium into nuclear weapon components in anticipation of later receiving weapon-grade uranium,” Albright wrote, adding that Iran’s expansion to 60% enriched uranium is close to reaching nuclear weapons-grade level.
“This level of enrichment is a hair’s breadth from 90% enriched or weapons-grade uranium, the enrichment level most desired for making nuclear weapons,” Albright noted.
“That is also the enrichment level used in Iran’s nuclear weapons designs, which it nearly perfected during its crash nuclear weapons program in the early 2000s, codenamed the Amad Plan. This program was shut down in 2003 and replaced with a smaller, more dispersed nuclear weapons effort, with the decision to make them postponed.”
Albright warned that intelligence agencies need to be on alert when it comes to Iran's abilities and progress in building a nuclear weapon.
“Western intelligence agencies may not detect the start of Iran’s nuclear weaponization effort. Given all the complexities and conflicts in the Middle East today, Western intelligence agencies, including Israel’s, are stretched to the limit. The beginning stages of a quiet, low-level effort to build nuclear weapons could slip through unobserved,” he wrote.
Albright recommended that the Washington and its allies focus on deterring Iran from building nuclear weapons, by introducing the threat of a military strike.
“Given short warning times and few prospects of a nuclear deal, the United States and its allies have little choice other than focusing on a strategy to deter Iran from deciding to build nuclear weapons in the first place. Iran needs to be made fully aware via concrete demonstrations that building nuclear weapons will trigger quick, drastic actions by the international community, including military strikes.”
The former weapons inspector advised increasing cooperation between Israel and the U.S. to remove the nuclear threat that Iran poses.
“US military cooperation with Israel aimed at destroying Iran’s nuclear capabilities should be bolstered, ensuring Israel can decisively strike Iran’s nuclear sites on short notice if there are signs that Iran is moving to build nuclear weapons, including the ability to deliver a second strike if Iran reconstitutes those activities.
“The priority should be assisting and building military capabilities with our allies and regional partners in the Middle East, with a US commitment to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and deter Iran from retaliation,” according to Albright.
Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi cautioned that Iran's enriched uranium capabilities are at a "very high level.”
“Iran is the only non-nuclear weapon state which is enriching uranium at this very, very high level – very close to weapons grade. I’m not saying they have a nuclear weapon, I’m saying this is sensitive. And when you’re doing that … you abide by the rules.”
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.