Jeffrey Lewis18 Cascades for Iran by August?

Wow.

IAEA DG ElBaradei told reporters today that the IAEA assesses that “by end of July, [Iran] might have 18 cascades running.” [2:38, it’s an mp3 file.]

That’s 2,952 centrifuges and it would surprise me. No one else seems to have caught it.

(A “diplomatic source in Vienna close to the IAEA” recently told Paul on April 25 that “Iran will be able to install approximately 3,000 centrifuges by the end of June.” But that seemed fast to me.)

ElBaradei later makes some ambiguous comments about how well the centrifuges are operating, relevant to our previous questions about the speed of rotation:

Whether some of the centrifuges are running with the speed desired or whether some of the centrifuges have crashed, well that is a part [of the analysis] we have not seen. We still have to do some analysis. [6:08]

The whole interview (about 15 minutes) is fascinating, including ElBaradei’s description of the estimates of “all other intelligence agencies” that have briefed him “that Iran is still a number of years away from a nuclear weapon.”

Comments

  1. abcd (History)

    I was more struck by the reports earlier this week quoting ElBaradei as saying that “Iran is on pace to install 8,000 uranium enrichment centrifuges by the end the year.” (See http://www.nti.org/d_newswire/issues/2007/6/12/CE0D5581-2ABC-4CB8-8E42-3796B4E74C87.html)

    Can Iran even assemble that many, let alone have them be fully operational?

  2. yale (History)

    I am interested in the results from the announced May 22 inspection. The last released performance numbers were from the mid-may inspections. In addition, since the centrifuges are being snap-inspected every ten days, there shoud be at least one june result available. What can you dig up?

  3. j house (History)

    The question is, what will the U.S. or Israel do once the Iranians announce they have successfully produced enough enriched fuel for a few bombs? Whether that is 12, 24 or 36 months from now, does it mattter? The door is slowly closing on covert or military options to delay or cripple this program.

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