May 22, 2012

Iran's Nuclear Weapons Fuel Production Capability


Iran could offer to halt production of 20% enriched uranium in upcoming negotiations. This “concession” would have limited impact on Iran’s ability to quickly produce weapons-grade uranium for one nuclear warhead, however. Iran would still retain the ability to resume 20% enrichment and to produce weapons-grade uranium at a time of its choosing. 

In a worst-case dash scenario Iran could produce 25 kg weapons-grade uranium by resuming 20% enrichment at its two declared enrichment sites, then proceed to enrich to 90% weapons-grade uranium at Fordow in about 42 days total; a best-case dash scenario using limited capacity would extend the timeline to only about 8 months.

Any outcome that does not include the verifiable dismantling of Iran’s nuclear program and the removal of all nuclear material—at any level—will allow Iran to retain the ability to acquire nuclear weapons fuel in short order.