Iran 'has uranium' for five bombs


Iran has significantly stepped up its output of low-enriched uranium and total production in the last five years would be enough for at least five nuclear weapons if refined much further, a US security institute said.

The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), a think-tank which tracks Iran's nuclear programme closely, based the analysis on data in the latest report by the UN.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which was issued yesterday.

Progress in Iran's nuclear activities is closely watched by the West and Israel as it could determine how long it could take Tehran to build atomic bombs, if it decided to do so. Iran denies any plan to and says its aims are entirely peaceful.

During talks in Baghdad this week, six world powers failed to convince Iran to scale back its uranium enrichment programme.

They will meet again in Moscow next month to try to defuse a decade-old standoff that has raised fears of a new war in the Middle East that could disrupt oil supplies.

Friday's report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a Vienna-based UN body, showed Iran was pressing ahead with its uranium enrichment work in defiance of UN resolutions calling on it to suspend the activity.

It said Iran had produced almost 6.2 tonnes of uranium enriched to a level of 3.5 per cent since it began the work in 2007 - some of which has subsequently been further processed into higher-grade material.

This is nearly 750 kg more than in the previous IAEA report issued in February, and ISIS said Iran's monthly production had risen by roughly a third.

"This total amount of 3.5 per cent low enriched uranium hexafluoride, if further enriched to weapon grade, is enough to make over five nuclear weapons," ISIS said in its analysis.

It added, however, that some of Iran's higher-grade uranium had been converted into reactor fuel and would not be available for nuclear weapons, at least not quickly.