Most alarmingly, Iran declared that uranium enrichment has begun at its underground Fordo facility near the holy city of Qom. The site was secretly built in a mountain before Iran admitted its existence in 2009. It is under the supervision of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and is designed to hold only 3,000 centrifuges. This is enough for making a nuclear bomb but far from what is needed to generate electricity, as Iran claims its nuclear program’s purpose is. When the site was declared, President Obama rightly said its features are “inconsistent with a peaceful program.”
Furthermore, Iran’s Natanz facility can accommodate the 50,000 centrifuges necessary for nuclear power, so the Fordo site isn’t necessary. Ivanka Barzashka of the Federation of American Scientists says that it would take the Fordo site about 90 years to produce one stock of fuel for civilian nuclear power. It is very obvious that it was built for nuclear weapons creation. Nuclear expert Andreas Persbo says the site could make enough bomb-grade uranium for a weapon in about a year, but it could be half of that. Iran says it is enriching the uranium at Fordo to 20 percent. David Albright says it could take as little as six months to produce the necessary highly-enriched uranium from that point.
One other report must be considered. Reza Kahlili, a former member of the Revolutionary Guards who spied for the CIA, received information last May that Ayatollah Khamenei had ordered the production of two nuclear warheads, ready for use with a payload, by March 2012. An additional eight warheads were to be produced and delivered to the Revolutionary Guards by that deadline, as well. If true, that means Iran could be only two months away from being armed with nuclear missiles. Iran’s preparation for an underground nuclear test, as revealed in the latest International Atomic Energy Agency report, is a further indication that the regime views its equipping with a nuclear bomb as a near-term prospect.
The enrichment at the Fordo site and the likely oil embargo are huge developments. The first means that the creation of an Iranian nuclear bomb could very well happen within one year. The second could threaten the survival of the regime. The clock is ticking.
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