Iran has increased the number of machines it’s using to enrich uranium at its Natanz complex by 14 percent and has begun enriching material at its underground Fordo complex near the holy city of Qom.
Iran is now making almost 31 pounds (14 kilograms) of 20 percent-enriched uranium a month compared with almost nine pounds (4 kilograms) in November, according to the report.
Though source and timing of this information is not clear, is it possible/reasonable to assume that Iran revealed this information during late Jan IAEA visit to Tehran?
Iran may be able to stockpile as much as 638 pounds of 20 percent enriched uranium, said Olli Heinonen, a senior fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, in a Feb. 15 telephone call.
That’s enough to make as many as two nuclear weapons if Iran decided to continue enriching to weapons-grade, which is 90 percent, according to Heinonen, who as the IAEA’s chief inspector visited Iranian facilities until 2010.
Iran increased its supply of 20 percent-enriched uranium to almost 240 pounds from just over 162 pounds reported in November, the IAEA said. Iran has produced almost 12,000 pounds of uranium enriched to less than 5 percent compared to slightly more than 10,828 pounds in the last IAEA report.
About 1,386 pounds of low-enriched uranium, if further purified, could yield the 33 pounds to 48 pounds of weapons- grade uranium an expert bomb maker needs to make a weapon, according to the London-based Verification Research, Training and Information Center, a non-governmental observer to the IAEA funded by European governments.
(Then roughly, 300 pounds of 20% enriched uranium = 1 bomb, 1386 pound of low-enriched uranium=1 bomb. That means Iran is yet to have enough 20% uranium for the first bomb, if the declared amount is truthful - and if it’s not secretly running hidden enrichment facilities… though somehow it certainly is increasing its uranium enrichment production while all these diplomatic tensions and sanctions, and also while completely denying IAEA access to any of its key enrichment and weapon R&D facilities. )