NEAR EAST REPORT AIPAC'S BIWEEKLY ON AMERICAN MIDDLE EAST POLICY

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Iran is pressing ahead with its nuclear program, defying multiple U.N. Security Council demands that it suspend its efforts to enrich uranium.
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Iran has multiple nuclear sites around the country. The Islamic Republic has been increasing its stockpile of low-enriched uranium.

IAEA Cannot Verify Iran’s Nuclear Intentions

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in its most recent report that it has received new information that points to possible military purposes for Iran’s nuclear program. The report also highlights Iran’s continued refusal to fully cooperate with IAEA inspectors.

“Iran is not engaging with the agency in substance on issues concerning the allegation that Iran is developing a nuclear payload for its missile program,” the report said.

Robert Einhorn, the State Department’s special advisor for nonproliferation and arms control, explained how the United States views Iran’s strategy. “We believe that, at a minimum, Iran is moving to the threshold of a nuclear weapons capability,” he said.

“They are clearly acquiring all the necessary elements of a nuclear weapons capability, whether it’s the fissile material they would need, whether it’s the delivery systems they would need—they’ve pursued a very active ballistic missile testing program—and also with respect to the weaponization activities that would be required.”

The IAEA has been investigating Iran’s nuclear program for many years, but its latest report marks the first time that the U.N. nuclear watchdog has listed the specific ways in which Iran has failed to cooperate with it.

For example, the report said that Iran has not provided information on the original purpose and design of the nuclear facility on a Revolutionary Guard base near Qom. Iran did not admit the existence of that site until the United States exposed it in September 2009. The regime in Tehran has indicated that the site will become operational “by this summer.”

In addition, the IAEA is “still awaiting a substantive response” to questions about Iran’s declared intention to build another 10 enrichment sites.

Stockpiling Uranium

In the report, the IAEA said Iran has stockpiled 7,950 lbs of low-enriched uranium (LEU)—an increase of more than 1,000 lbs since October 2010. That amount of LEU is enough for three nuclear bombs if further enriched.

In addition to its growing supply of LEU, Iran has stockpiled 96 lbs of uranium enriched to the 20 percent level. Enriching uranium to that level is 85 percent of the work needed to produce fuel for a nuclear weapon.

Iran, moreover, announced that it intends to install more advanced and efficient centrifuges into its pilot plant and will begin feeding uranium into these centrifuges. This announcement could indicate that Iran has begun to master the necessary technology to install advanced centrifuges on a large scale and replace its older models. If Iran succeeds with this upgrade, it will dramatically decrease the amount of time necessary to enrich its LEU to bomb-grade levels.

With all of this in mind, James Clapper, director of National Intelligence, has expressed concerns about Iran’s nuclear intentions. “Iran’s technical advancement, particularly in uranium enrichment, strengthens our assessment that Iran has the scientific, technical, and industrial capacity to eventually produce nuclear weapons, making the central issue its political will to do so,” he said.

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