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Iran to have enough enriched uranium for weapon by spring: think tank.

VIENNA, Nov. 13 Kyodo

Iran has the potential to acquire by spring 2013 enough 20 percent enriched uranium for making nuclear weapons, the head of a U.S. think tank has warned.

In a recent interview with Kyodo News, David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, said it is realistic to say that the country could obtain the necessary amount in six to seven months at the earliest since it has been boosting its facilities to enrich uranium.

The latest revelation comes amid persistent calls from the international community for Iran to halt its rapidly expanding uranium enrichment program.

Iran insists that it has no intention to develop nuclear weapons and its program to produce 20 percent enriched uranium is intended to supply fuel to a medical research reactor. But Western nations view this as a cover for nuclear weapons development.

Albright said a nuclear weapon requires some 200 kilograms of enriched uranium, and that if the enrichment continues at the current pace, Iran would be able to attain such a quantity of weapons-grade enriched uranium in a relatively short time.

Currently, Iran appears to have produced more than 100 kilograms of uranium enriched to a level of about 20 percent purity.

Scientists believe the ability to enrich uranium to around 20 percent purity would easily be used to produce weapons-grade uranium, which requires a purity of over 90 percent.

Tehran apparently has not acquired the expertise to produce a nuclear warhead, but its latest uranium enrichment push could make its activities more threatening and prod Israel to attack its nuclear facilities.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has said Iran is producing about 15 kilograms of 20 percent enriched uranium a month.

Iran began manufacturing uranium enriched to a level of 20 percent in February 2010. According to the IAEA, Iran's facilities have produced 189 kilograms of enriched uranium as of August. Of that amount, 90 kilograms were accounted for by the IAEA as of August after 95 kilograms were moved to a fabrication plant in the city of Esfahan for eventual research use.
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Publication:Japan Energy Scan
Geographic Code:7IRAN
Date:Nov 19, 2012
Words:348
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