Iran could produce enough weapons-grade uranium to build an atomic weapon within two weeks and has, “in a certain way,” already reached the point of no return in its nuclear program, a former senior International Atomic Energy Association official said today.
“I believe that if certain arrangements are done, it could even go down to two weeks. So there are a lot of concerns out there that Iran can hopefully now address, in this new phase, both at the P5+1 [talks between Tehran and six world powers] and with the IAEA,” former IAEA deputy director Olli Heinonen said, confirming a report released last week by the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security, which stated Iran could muster enough uranium for a bomb by converting all of its 20-percent enriched stockpile within 1 to 1.6 months.
Speaking to journalists on a conference call organized by The Israel Project, Heinonen contrived to sound optimistic and pessimistic at the same time.Earlier on Monday,IAEA Director Yukiya Amano met in Vienna with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, Tehran’s top nuclear negotiator, ahead of two days of technical talks between Iranian representatives and the UN’s nuclear watchdog. Amano described his meeting as important in addressing “the outstanding issues regarding Iran’s nuclear program.”
“They are forward looking,” he about about the Iranian negotiators. “And I think they have realized that they don’t get away from this situation unless they answer properly the questions raised by the IAEA and concerns raised by the international community. So I’m to a certain degree hopeful. But we have to make sure that everything is covered.”
Asked specifically if Iran had passed the “point of no return” in its nuclear program, Heinonen, today a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, replied, “Yes, in a certain way. But we have to remember what are the capabilities of Iran. People have slightly different definitions of breakout capability.
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