Friday, April 14, 2006

Apparently there was some talk of Iran being capable of producing nuclear weapons in sixteen days:

Iran, defying United Nations Security Council demands to halt its nuclear program, may be capable of making a nuclear bomb within 16 days, a U.S. State Department official said.

Iran will move to "industrial scale" uranium enrichment involving 54,000 centrifuges at its Natanz plant, the Associated Press quoted deputy nuclear chief Mohammad Saeedi as telling state-run television today.

"Using those 50,000 centrifuges they could produce enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon in 16 days," Stephen Rademaker, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation, told reporters today in Moscow.

Which is true. They could make a nuclear weapon in 16 days--some thirteen years from now:

The problem is that Iran only has 164 centrifuges in operation today. Rademaker was responding to a question about how quickly Iran could produce a nuclear weapon once it reached industrial scale capacity. As we learn much later down in the Bloomberg piece, experts estimate it would take more than 13 years to produce enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon using just those 164 centrifuges.

There is no mention of how long it would take for Iran to construct and bring online the 54,000 centrifuges needed to build a nuke in sixteen days, though Bloomberg does report that Iran "plans to construct 3,000 centrifuges at Natanz next year" (The NY Times differs by reporting that Iran will begin "operating the first of 3,000 centrifuges at Natanz by late 2006").

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