Iran May Be One Month From Nuclear Bomb

'Shortening breakout times have implications for any negotiation with Iran,' says new assessment by the U.S. Institute for Science and International Security.

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Iran could build a nuclear bomb within as little as a month, a new report issued by the U.S. Institute for Science and International Security says.

According to the assessment, Iran's weapons-grade uranium production capabilities are developed to a degree that its 'breakout time' - the time needed to convert enough uranium to weapon-grade so as to build a bomb – stands at between one and 1.6 months – and is shortening further.

"Shortening breakout times have implications for any negotiation with Iran," states the report, adding that lengthening the breakout times should be a central concern of the current negotiations.

Such a goal could be achieved in a number of ways, the report says – all of which would involve a significant reduction in the number of centrifuges active at the Natanz and Fordo facilities.

The report urges negotiators to take measures which would ensure the shortening of time needed to detect any attempt at breakout, and gain assurance that a secret centrifuge plant is unlikely to be built or finished.

The ISIS report's summary, which is available online, concludes by saying that said steps "are achievable and reasonable if Iran is committed to convincing the world that its nuclear program is indeed peaceful."

On Thursday, a senior Iranian parliamentarian was quoted as saying Iran has stopped enriching uranium to 20 percent, one of the key demands of world powers.

The International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, which regularly inspects Iranian nuclear sites, said it had no comment for now.

'An opportunity to exchange views'

Meanwhile, the UN atomic agency announced Thursday that its chief and a senior Iranian nuclear negotiator will meet on Monday before a new round of talks over the Iran's disputed atomic activities.

Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, will meet with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi for about an hour at the IAEA's Vienna headquarters, it said.

"The meeting will provide an opportunity to exchange views on the way forward," the IAEA said in a statement.

It gave no further details. The fact the Amano-Araqchi meeting appeared to be scheduled at short notice may be seen as a further sign of the new Iranian government's desire to try to end international deadlock over the country's nuclear program.

It will be followed by a new round of negotiations on Nov. 7 and 8 in Geneva between senior officials from both sides over a stalled IAEA investigation into suspected atomic bomb research by Iran, which denies the charge.

Neither Amano nor Araqchi is due to take part in those previously scheduled talks, which will be the 12th such meeting since early 2012.

The IAEA-Iran talks have so far failed to yield a breakthrough deal that would allow the agency to resume its inquiry. But the election of relatively moderate Hassan Rouhani as Iranian president in June has raised hopes of a possible resolution to the nuclear dispute.

Araqchi played a key role in separate negotiations that resumed in Geneva last week between Iran and six world powers - the United States, Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain - aimed at finding a diplomatic settlement.

The powers want Iran, which says its program is peaceful, to curb activity that can have both civilian and military purposes. The IAEA wants to gain access to sites, officials and documents in Iran for its investigation.

Iranian nuclear reactor at Bushehr.Credit: AP

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