Israel, Walla! News
By Yossi Melman
Iran, in practice, enjoys the immunity zone now, and even before then, from the moment it began installing the centrifuges at Fordo.
Translated by Viktoria LymarEdited by Steven Stenzler
25 October 2012
800 centrifuges are operational at this stage in the facility near Qom – nonetheless, the new installment will improve Iran’s enrichment capacity, as Netanyahu warned in the United Nations. Barak, on the opposite, was wrong in his assessment.
Iran has completed in the last two months the installation of all the centrifuges at the uranium enrichment site at Fordow near the city of Qom. The Reuters news agency reported today (Thursday) from the Headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna that since the last report written regarding Iran in August, it has continued to install another 700 centrifuges and at the moment, in sum total, there are approximately 2,800 centrifuges at the site.
The underground hall, at a depth of about 70 meters, where the centrifuges are installed, was built to accommodate up to 3,000 of them. However, it should be stressed that at this stage, only 800 centrifuges are operating at the site, while the rest – largely, the newly installed ones or, perhaps, the additionally installed ones – are not enriching uranium yet. The 800 functioning centrifuges are enriching uranium to the level of 20 percent, whereas in order to produce fissionable material for nuclear weapons, Iran should enrich about 250 kilograms of 20 percent-level uranium to the level of 93 percent.
This enrichment, if and when Iran performs it, means just one thing: it intends to assemble a bomb. The above process – from 20 percent to 93 percent – should take a few weeks, at the latest two months, although this also depends on the number of centrifuges doing it and the efficiency of the rotation of their blades. Iran has now ‘only’ 140 kilograms of uranium at the 20 percent level, and therefore, at the current pace of enrichment, it is going to reach the required amount of 250 kilograms within three to four months.
Netanyahu was right in his estimates, however, his defense minister has erred
These assessments concerning Iran's timetables are consistent with the comments by the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the U.N. General Assembly in New York about a month ago, according to which Iran will be able already in the spring, or at most, the summer, to reach a condition where it has the required amount of the substance that can be used as fissile material for a bomb. In fact, the completion of the installation of the centrifuges at Fordow makes totally redundant the claim of the Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, about having to act against Iran before it enters ‘the immunity zone.’ Iran, in practice, enjoys the immunity zone now, and even before then, from the moment it began installing the centrifuges at Fordow.
The truth is that Israel has no bunker-busting bombs capable of penetrating to a depth of 70 meters, and neither has it aircraft that can carry these bombs, each weighing 14 tons. The United States, by contrast, is working hard in these days on the development of such bunker-busters, while already today the U.S. Army has at its disposal bombs able to penetrate a bunker at a depth of 50 to 60 meters.
Original Hebrew article + VIDEO:
Photo credit: Reuters - the facility at Fordow