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August surprise? Iran could have fuel for bomb before US election, study says.

Iran could have 85 kg of low-enriched uranium by June, the report says. If Iran is willing to take a 'break-out' step, that quantity could be converted into enough weapons-grade uranium to fuel a nuclear bomb by late August.

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Iran could have enough weapons-grade uranium to fuel one nuclear bomb with a 15-kiloton yield by the end of August, about the time the US presidential race will kick into high gear, according to a new report.

And if anything is likely to replace “jobs, jobs, jobs” at the top of the list of campaign issues, it’s the arrival of a nuclear-capable Iran.

The report, the result of research by the Critical Threats Project at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute, is careful to underscore that its findings assess “technical feasibility” only and do not delve into the question of Iran’s motivations behind its advancing nuclear program.

The report “does not assess Iran’s intentions to weaponize or to pursue break-out scenarios,” says Maseh Zarif, the Critical Threat Project’s Iran team leader. “It is intended solely to inform the policy community and the American public about the nature and progress of the Iranian nuclear program.”

Iran insists that its uranium enrichment program is aimed at producing fuel and materials for civilian power and medical research purposes. But the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Western powers, including the United States, suspect that Iran’s recent acceleration of uranium enrichment to about 20 percent purity suggests Tehran could be planning to “break out” as a nuclear weapons power.

In his report, Mr. Zarif says Iran would need 85 kilograms of about 20-percent low-enriched uranium to deliver the 15 kilograms of 90-percent high-enriched, or weapons-grade, uranium to build a bomb.


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