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“If you want to free a society, just give them internet access. Because people, the young guys, you know, are all going to go out and see biased media, see the truth about other nations and their own nation and they’re going to be able to contribute and collaborate together.”
▸ [Iran, IAEA Report: Iran Tripled Pace of Uranium Enrichment] - Bloomberg

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. )

Source: bloomberg.com

Feb 24, 2012, 5:48pm  0 notes      

▸ AP Exclusive: [Diplomats say Iran Ready with Thousands of New Generation of Centrifuges]

They said Tehran has put finishing touches for the installation of thousands of new-generation centrifuges at the cavernous facility — machines that can produce enriched uranium much more quickly and efficiently than its present machines.

While saying that the electrical circuitry, piping and supporting equipment for the new centrifuges was now in place, the diplomats emphasized that Tehran had not started installing the new machines at its Fordo facility and could not say whether it was planning to.

Still, the senior diplomats — who asked for anonymity because their information was privileged — suggested that Tehran would have little reason to prepare the ground for the better centrifuges unless it planned to operate them. They spoke in recent interviews — the last one Saturday.

Feb 19, 2012, 2:03am  1 note      

▸ Iran to announce new nuclear projects Wednesday, CBSNews

IRNA did not specify in its Tuesday report what the projects would be. But an independent news website that regularly reports on nuclear developments said the ceremonies are likely to include the formal inauguration of the underground Fordo uranium enrichment site in central Iran, and starting operations on two lines of centrifuges there. Irannuc.ir said that the president is also likely to announce the final stage of production of nuclear fuel rods to be used in a Tehran research reactor.

Source: cbsnews.com

Feb 14, 2012, 10:37pm  1 note      

“Iran never explained why it had sought to keep the [Fordow] plant secret. Moreover, Fordow is designed to hold 3,000 centrifuges: too few to provide fuel for a civil nuclear power programme, but just enough to produce weapons-grade uranium for nuclear bombs.”

Great Salt Desert bunker could be trigger for an attack on Iran - David Blair, Telegraph

Every centrifuge that disappears inside this bunker could be beyond the reach of air strikes. Last November, the IAEA reported that Fordow held 412 centrifuges, representing 14 per cent of its capacity.

The build-up of centrifuges in Fordow is the timeline “most relevant to military action,” said Mark Fitzpatrick, director of non-proliferation at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. But is the plant really invulnerable? The heaviest bunker-busting bomb in the US arsenal is the GBU-57 Massive Ordnance Penetrator, weighing 14 tons, and capable of breaking through at least 60 metres of reinforced concrete.

Even Fordow may not be immune to a device this size. Only the B2 and B52 bombers flown by the US Air Force can drop this bomb. The heaviest bunker-buster available to the Israeli Air Force, by contrast, is the GBU-28, which is a third of the size. So Israel may not be able to disable Fordow, but the US probably could.

The process of reinforcing and hardening the plant is not yet complete, say officials, adding that an air strike could still be effective. But the window will eventually close, creating another timeline vital to any decision over military action.

January 25, 2012, 2:08am  3 notes

▸ Iran close to starting nuclear work in [Fordow] bunker: diplomats, Fredrik Dahl, Reuters

Apart from the technical question of preparing Fordow for launch, Iran would have to take a political decision to start enrichment there. Western capitals may be hoping that the latest sanctions, which are imposing real pain on the Iranian economy, would persuade Tehran to hold off.

Iran is already refining uranium to a fissile purity of 20 percent - far more than the 3.5 percent level usually required to power nuclear energy plants - above ground at another location.

It is moving this higher-grade enrichment to Fordow in an apparent bid to better protect the work against any enemy attacks. It also plans to sharply boost output capacity.

The machines and other equipment needed to start enrichment were installed at Fordow last year. […]


Tehran says it will use 20 percent-enriched uranium to convert into fuel for a research reactor making isotopes to treat cancer patients, but Western officials say they doubt that the country has the technical capability to do that.

In addition, they say, Fordow’s capacity - a maximum of 3,000 centrifuges - is too small to produce the fuel needed for nuclear power plants, but ideal for yielding smaller amounts of high-enriched product typical of a nuclear weapons program.

An IAEA report in November said Iran had installed two networks of 174 centrifuges each at Fordow. Centrifuges spin at supersonic speeds, which enriches uranium by increasing the concentration of heavier, fissile isotopes.

Nuclear bombs require uranium enriched to 90 percent. But Mark Fitzpatrick, a nuclear expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies think tank, said most of the work would be complete once it reached 20 percent purity.

"By the time the uranium is enriched to 20 percent, nine-tenths of the effort to reach weapons grade has been expended," Fitzpatrick wrote in a paper.

Jan 06, 2012, 3:54pm  0 notes