IDF Official: Iran Explosion May Delay Tehran's Missile Development Track

Head of army intelligence research department says Tehran continues nuclear program progress despite extensive pressure, attempts to destabilize regime.

Also on Monday, a top Israeli security official said that a recent explosion that rocked an Iranian missile base near Tehran could delay or stop further Iranian surface-to-surface missile development.

Earlier this month, Iran reiterated that the explosion at a military base near Tehran that killed 17 members of the Revolutionary Guards was an accident.

iran - Reuters - November 17 2011

It says that contrary to media speculation, the blast, which also killed a missile expert, was not carried out by Israel or the United States.

Speaking at a meeting of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Ithai Baron, head of the research department of Israel's military intelligence, said that while the blast may have stalled some avenues of Iranian weapons development, it was far from stopping all of the Islamic Republic's options.

Regarding Iran's nuclear program, Baron informed the Knesset committee that Tehran was continuing its advancement "despite extensive pressure applied on it, intelligence attempts, the state of the Iranian economy, and the potential to destabilize the Iranian regime."

"Iran is regularly operating about 6,000 centrifuges out of the 8,000 it installed. Until now, [Iran] has been able to accumulate 50 tons of low-grade enriched uranium and a little less than 100 kg of uranium enriched at 20% levels," the IDF officials said, adding that the Islamic Republic needed "220kg of 20% enriched uranium to have enough for a nuclear bomb."

However, Baron added, it should be noted that 20% enriched uranium still has to be upgraded to 90%" to construct a nuclear weapon.

Referring to a recent International Atomic Energy Agency report, alleging that Iran was working to achieve nuclear weapons' capabilities, the IDF official said that he did not believe the document would in any way change the way in which Iran had been advancing its nuclear program.