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November 11, 2014 5:38 pm

Former IAEA Deputy Chief Warns Iran Has More Advanced Centrifuges Than Officially Declared

avatar by Ben Cohen

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Former IAEA Deputy Director General Olli Heinonen has warned that Iran may have several thousand more IR2m centrifuges than it has declared. Photo: Wikicommons

With just under a fortnight remaining before the deadline for a final November 24 agreement over Iran’s nuclear program, a veteran nuclear inspector is warning that the absence of robust verification measures could result in a much faster breakout time for achieving a nuclear weapon.

Dr. Olli Heinonen, a former Deputy Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) who spent a total of 27 years with the international organization, was addressing a conference call organized by The Israel Project.

Heinonen was speaking one day after the  Sunday Times of London reported his dramatic independent assessment of Iran’s nuclear capacity, specifically that Iran could have up to 5,000 IR-2m centrifuges, rather than the 1,008 it has claimed. The IR-2m devices are up to five times more effective in enriching uranium than older IR-1 types, the Sunday Times said.

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In today’s remarks, Heinonen explained that with just 1,000 IR-2m centrifuges, Iran could enrich enough natural uranium to make a weapon in just one year. Were the Iranians to use their stockpile of 3.5 percent enriched uranium, the same number of centrifuges could produce the same result in six months. The addition of more centrifuges would simply speed up this process.

In a recently published report on the Iranian nuclear program for the Henry Jackson Society, a London-based think-tank, Heinonen pointed out that the issue of centrifuges has become “the main unit of currency” in discussions over curbing Iran’s capacity.

In that same report, Heinonen said: “It should be stated categorically that limiting Iran’s centrifuge program to between 2,000 and 4,000 IR-1 centrifuges is consistent with Iran’s actual needs for enriched uranium for many years. Even 2,000 IR-1 centrifuges would provide Iran with sufficient enriched uranium for its existing and foreseen research reactor needs.” Speaking to the Sunday Times, Heinonen stressed that “it is important to have in this verification scheme an agreement that the IAEA can also verify all the centrifuges… when I say all, I mean all the things that have been manufactured there — whether it’s in a warehouse, whether it’s in storage, whether it’s installed somewhere else.”

Heinonen emphasized that time remains on Iran’s side, given its historic non-compliance with the IAEA and the absence of any comprehensive, verifiable account of its nuclear program. “Iran has talked a lot about transparency,” Heinonen said. “But the transparency measures need to be legally binding, so that the international community can act, and therefore it should be done through a UN Security Council resolution.”

Heinonen argued that there should be “a complete declaration by Iran on its past and current nuclear program” as the first step in implementing any final agreement.

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  • Abe Bird

    It’s time to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities with no other per-conditions and assessments.
    It’s time to act!

  • Allan Fritz

    And our President and Secretary of State are still negotiating with the Iranians? Are they stupid or mare they trying to bring down the U.S.A.?

  • Where is our President Obama as our foreign policy has turned into a complete disaster. IRAN IS ISRAEL’S ENEMY.

    Video of Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg SAYS: President Obama, You Have Some Nerve:.

    Video is on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ig8c795KymA

  • Iran has been working in the making of the bomb for just too long. I believe they already have their own production of untested nuclear weapons. Russia or Corea may test them for a final quality checking. The West, especially Germany know this but they look elsewhere. Iran will not use this weapons against Israel because there are too many moslems there but they want to be aclaimed as a nuclear threat to gain a larger piece of world power.

  • Efram

    He is absolutely right, and Obama would never push for such transparency, because he wants Iran to speed up its nuclear weapons program.

  • Dita Gould

    With Russia on the side of Iran,Obama too weak Your solution is the best option

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