ISIS: Iran breakout times shortening, but ‘dash’ unlikely next year

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Iran would be unlikely to “breakout” and dash to manufacture weapons grade uranium for a nuclear bomb over the next year, because it would be detected well in time and face war, according to a new report (.pdf) by the Institute for Science and International Studies (ISIS). However, without a confidence building measure that could reduce anxieties over Iran’s 20% enrichment activities and put time on the clock for nuclear negotiations, Iran’s trajectory could put it on a path that makes military confrontation more likely, the group warns.

It would currently take Iran at least 21 months to produce enough weapons grade uranium (WGU) for one nuclear bomb at its fortified Fordow enrichment facility, and two to four months at its above ground Natanz enrichment site.

Those timelines, plus the fact that it would be detected, would make “an Iranian decision to break out risky,” the ISIS report assesses.

However, “Iran’s current trajectory at Fordow is increasing the chance of a military confrontation,” the report warns.

“To reduce the tensions …a priority in the short term should be obtaining confidence building measures which would cap Iran’s enrichment of uranium to five percent and limit the number of enriching centrifuges at the Fordow site to no more than a few hundred,” ISIS recommends.

“It is in the interest of all concerned to avoid escalation of the Iranian nuclear crisis, first by negotiating such confidence building measures and then by negotiating more lasting agreements which ensure Iran will not build nuclear weapons.”

You can read the full report here.

(Photo: Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sits with his delegation prior to his address to the 67th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, September 26, 2012.  REUTERS/Mike Segar.)