Another 'Iran could have the bomb in 6 months' story

Rick Moran
We have heard this same tale for 3 years or more; Iran is just months away from having a workable bomb - if they chose to make one.

This time it's German intelligence who is making the claim - a claim an official spokesman shot down almost immediately according to this Reuters article:

Germany's foreign intelligence agency BND denied a report in a magazine on Wednesday that its experts believe Iran is capable of producing and testing an atomic bomb within six months. The report, in German weekly Stern, cited BND experts as saying Iran had mastered the enrichment technology necessary to make a bomb and had enough centrifuges to make weaponised uranium.

It quoted one expert at the agency as saying: "If they wanted to, they could detonate an atomic bomb in half a year's time."

But a BND spokesman said the article did not reflect the view of the agency, which is that Iran would not be able to produce an atomic bomb for years.

"We are talking about several years not several months," the spokesman said.

Iran says its nuclear programme is for electricity generation to help it export more of its oil and gas, but Western countries suspect it of trying to make a nuclear bomb.

The U.N. Security Council has imposed three sets of sanctions on Tehran for defying its demands to suspend uranium enrichment.

Some analysts say Iran may be close to having the required material for producing a bomb, but most say the weaponisation process would then take one to two years due to technical and political hurdles.

That last is pure wishful thinking. It is probable Iran has a working bomb design, probably purchased from Pakistan's "Father of the Atomic Bomb" A.Q. Khan whose black market nuclear bomb shop helped North Korea, Libya, and other nation's nuclear programs. Khan was a big supplier of Iranian software and hardware during the 1990's and there are indications from a seized laptop that Iran does indeed possess a bomb design.

The real problem Iran has is in keeping the weaponization process secret. Right now, they have more than 100 lbs of enriched uranium. But it is only enriched to a level of 5% which is suitable for nuclear reactors but far short of the 85-90% necessary for bomb making. The access they have granted the IAEA inspectors has been grudging but has been enough for the IAEA to be reasonably certain they are not enriching their uranium to bomb making levels - at least at facilities we are aware of.

And there is one technical hurdle that Iran would need to overcome; warhead design for their ever growing missile count. Most experts believe it will take at least two years for Iran to marry their bomb to one of their missiles. But on the other hand, they don't need a missile to explode the bomb which is probably small enough to fit in the trunk of a car. That kind of threat keeps Israeli leaders awake at night.

The CIA dismisses the notion of a secret military facility where the additional enrichment can take place but they too are guessing. The fact is, the entire reason for UN sanctions was that Iran has been less than forthcoming about many aspects of its nuclear program and the security council wants straight answers from the mullahs before they lift the milquetoast restrictions they've placed on the Iranian economy.

This won't happen because Iran sees their nuclear program as a matter of national pride - as do most of the Iranian people. Even regime change might not stop the nuclear program in Iran which is something to contemplate before undertaking any such action.

The German intel guess is probably right. But whether the Iranians can keep it secret while they boost the enrichment of their uranium is another question.




We have heard this same tale for 3 years or more; Iran is just months away from having a workable bomb - if they chose to make one.

This time it's German intelligence who is making the claim - a claim an official spokesman shot down almost immediately according to this Reuters article:

Germany's foreign intelligence agency BND denied a report in a magazine on Wednesday that its experts believe Iran is capable of producing and testing an atomic bomb within six months. The report, in German weekly Stern, cited BND experts as saying Iran had mastered the enrichment technology necessary to make a bomb and had enough centrifuges to make weaponised uranium.

It quoted one expert at the agency as saying: "If they wanted to, they could detonate an atomic bomb in half a year's time."

But a BND spokesman said the article did not reflect the view of the agency, which is that Iran would not be able to produce an atomic bomb for years.

"We are talking about several years not several months," the spokesman said.

Iran says its nuclear programme is for electricity generation to help it export more of its oil and gas, but Western countries suspect it of trying to make a nuclear bomb.

The U.N. Security Council has imposed three sets of sanctions on Tehran for defying its demands to suspend uranium enrichment.

Some analysts say Iran may be close to having the required material for producing a bomb, but most say the weaponisation process would then take one to two years due to technical and political hurdles.

That last is pure wishful thinking. It is probable Iran has a working bomb design, probably purchased from Pakistan's "Father of the Atomic Bomb" A.Q. Khan whose black market nuclear bomb shop helped North Korea, Libya, and other nation's nuclear programs. Khan was a big supplier of Iranian software and hardware during the 1990's and there are indications from a seized laptop that Iran does indeed possess a bomb design.

The real problem Iran has is in keeping the weaponization process secret. Right now, they have more than 100 lbs of enriched uranium. But it is only enriched to a level of 5% which is suitable for nuclear reactors but far short of the 85-90% necessary for bomb making. The access they have granted the IAEA inspectors has been grudging but has been enough for the IAEA to be reasonably certain they are not enriching their uranium to bomb making levels - at least at facilities we are aware of.

And there is one technical hurdle that Iran would need to overcome; warhead design for their ever growing missile count. Most experts believe it will take at least two years for Iran to marry their bomb to one of their missiles. But on the other hand, they don't need a missile to explode the bomb which is probably small enough to fit in the trunk of a car. That kind of threat keeps Israeli leaders awake at night.

The CIA dismisses the notion of a secret military facility where the additional enrichment can take place but they too are guessing. The fact is, the entire reason for UN sanctions was that Iran has been less than forthcoming about many aspects of its nuclear program and the security council wants straight answers from the mullahs before they lift the milquetoast restrictions they've placed on the Iranian economy.

This won't happen because Iran sees their nuclear program as a matter of national pride - as do most of the Iranian people. Even regime change might not stop the nuclear program in Iran which is something to contemplate before undertaking any such action.

The German intel guess is probably right. But whether the Iranians can keep it secret while they boost the enrichment of their uranium is another question.