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Report: Iran isn't far from nuclear weapon

June 1, 2010 at 10:26 AM   |   Comments

TEHRAN, June 1 (UPI) -- Iran has gathered at least 2 tons of enriched uranium -- enough to make two nuclear bombs -- a U.N. report said.

U.S. scientists who have followed Iran's nuclear aspirations say the country is moving toward the same type of bomb used in Hiroshima, Japan, in World War II, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Tuesday.

Although the uranium is to be used for civilian purposes, the U.N. report, released Monday, indicated the uranium could be enriched further to make weapons-grade fuel.

"If they wanted to make highly enriched uranium, they could do it," said physicist David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington. He estimated Iran is about 18 months away from achieving the higher enrichment level.

Iran is permitted to develop nuclear power and refine uranium for fuel under the international Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty adopted in 1970. The country must let International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors ensure it is not making nuclear weapons.

Albright said Iranian officials diluted inspections since 2002 by refusing to answer questions and secretly building enrichment sites.

Officially, Iran still works with the international community even though it has been condemned for what Western leaders say is the pursuit of a nuclear weapon, Ivan Oelrich, vice president of the Strategic Security Program for the Federation of American Scientists, told the Inquirer.

Iran says the latest IAEA report did not mention a recent declaration signed by Iran, Turkey and Brazil on an exchange agreement that would provide fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor, the government-backed Press TV reported.

"It was very surprising because we expected that this important historical event, which was the result of positive, constructive and … honest approach … and is 100 percent related to the IAEA activities, should have been reported here," said Ali Asghar, Iran's ambassador to the IAEA.

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