The “AP”:http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/nuclear_agency_iran&printer=1;_ylt=AtBUUsclasQkDD7VSO2xa6cUewgF;_ylu=X3oDMTA3MXN1bHE0BHNlYwN0bWE has more about the alleged accelerated “pace of Iran’s centrifuge program”:http://www.armscontrolwonk.com/1013/iran-iran-iran.
Some people at the IAEA are none too amused by recent press reports on the matter:
U.N. inspectors should know by next week how far Iran has advanced on the path to nuclear enrichment, diplomats said Saturday â€ findings that could shape Security Council action against Tehran and hurt U.S. claims that Iran has accelerated its efforts.
The International Atomic Energy Agency â€ the U.N. nuclear watchdog â€ is clearly rankled by the U.S. assertions just days ahead of a trip by IAEA inspectors to Natanz, the site of Iran’s known enrichment efforts.
IAEA officials normally refuse to be identified as such when discussing sensitive topics such as disputes with leading IAEA board members, such as the United States.
But reflecting exasperation, a senior agency official dropped such reservations Saturday as he called the U.S. claims that an agency briefing on the advances made by Iran on enrichment was a bombshell “pure speculation and misinformation.”
“It comes from people who are seeking a crisis, not a solution” to the confrontation over Iran, the official said.
The senior IAEA official did not offer details on the spat.
But a diplomat in Vienna, who demanded anonymity in exchange for discussing confidential information, said some U.S. administration officials were misrepresenting a recent briefing by the agency to Vienna-based representatives of America, Russia, China, France, and Britain â€ the five permanent Security Council members.
The information on where Iran was on enrichment and where it was headed was not new, but the U.S. officials claimed “the … IAEA was blown away by (Iran’s) progress and had the U.S. redefining its timeline” for Iran’s capacity to make its first nuclear weapon down to three years, the diplomat told The Associated Press.
The 2008 worst-case estimate described in the “Knight-Ridder piece”:http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/14171206.htm is about a year ahead of “David Albright and Corey Hinderstein’s”:http://www.isis-online.org/publications/iran/irancascade.pdf.
It seems likely that this accelerated timeline has its roots in “ElBaradei’s last report to the IAEA BoG,”:http://www.armscontrolwonk.com/985/gov200615 which says that Iran plans to install 3,000 centrifuges in the Natanz FEP beginning late this year. That is about “twice the number”:http://www.armscontrolwonk.com/945/iran-focus-part-1-how-close-is-iran-to-the-bomb of centrifuges ISIS says Iran needs for producing enough HEU for a weapon within a year.
So if we take Iran’s claim at face value, Natanz will have more cascades operating by 2007 than the ISIS timeline posits.
Whether Iran will get its _first_ cascades running sooner than ISIS estimates is unclear. US officials may be assuming that Iran’s ability to install more centrifuges earlier than previously thought also indicates that it can get the cascades up and running sooner than previously thought.