Israeli defense experts say Iran could have bomb in 1- 3 years
December 14, 2005
Defense Committee Chairman says there's no such thing as "the point of no return" when referring to Iran's atom bomb production capabilities - but says the threat is more immediate than believed
Shteinitz: No "Point of No Return," But Iranian Bomb Closing In
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
By Hillel Fendel Defense Committee Chairman says there's no such thing as "the point of no return" when referring to Iran's atom bomb production capabilities - but says the threat is more immediate than believed.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday that Iran will have reached "the point of no return" in its atom bomb building capabilities by this coming March.
Halutz emphasized, however, that despite its technological capability, Iran will not pose an immediate nuclear threat to Israel. He estimated that Iran's bomb could be ready sometime between 2007 and 2015.
Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman MK Yuval Shteinitz (Likud) did not like what he heard. "For one thing," he explained to Arutz-7 today, "the term 'point of no return' is not correct. This is an ongoing process that can be stopped at any stage, and therefore there's no point in using a term that is misleading and confusing."
Arutz-7 asked, "Isn't there a point after which the facilities can no longer be bombed because of the danger that the released radioactivity would harm the nearby civilian population?"
Shteinitz said, "No. That is true only for reactors. But Iran is using a different system, of centrifugal force, and in several different facilities in different places, and therefore this danger does not exist."
"It could be," he added, "that some people use this term - 'point of no return' - to refer to the point at which Iran will no longer require international help in developing its nuclear program. But I think they have passed this stage already. Iran is a large country, and just like the U.S. built a bomb without help in 1945, Iran can do the same in 2006."
Shteinitz patiently explained that enriching uranium is a two-step process of conversion and enrichment. "Iran has already completed the first stage," he said, "thus that they are more than half-way there. In the past half-year, Iran has converted 40 tons of natural uranium into UF6. But this is not enough. It must then be enriched, centrifugally, for many cycles, until it reaches a 90% enrichment state. That is the point at which it becomes fissile, that is, capable of being split and releasing the desired tremendous amounts of energy. This is the enriched uranium that is required for a bomb."
"Don't misunderstand me," said Shteinitz, who has a Ph.D. in philosophy. "The Iranians are well on their way to developing nuclear weapons. Time is running out. For Halutz to say that they will be ready anywhere between two and ten years from now - that's like saying nothing. In my opinion, from the time they begin the enrichment stage, they can have the bomb within 1-3 years. If they accept upon themselves the international restrictions, of course, it will take longer."
Shteinitz said that Halutz had accepted the criticism, and would no longer use the term "point of no return" in reference to Iran's nuclear program.
Mohammed El Baradei, chairman of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said earlier this month that once Iran resumes the enrichment of uranium, it will be only "a few months" away from manufacturing an atomic bomb. He went so far as to estimate that Iran would resume uranium enrichment over the next few days.
It was reported, however, that Iran's atomic chief Gholamreza Aghazadeh said that Iran will not enrich uranium for as long as it is negotiating the issue with the international community. He reiterated, however, that Iran would never give up nuclear fuel production.
Hamas Threatens Israel Regarding Iranian Offensive 16:14 Dec 15, '05
(IsraelNN.com) Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshal, speaking from Damascus, warned Israel against launching an offensive against Iran, stating such a move would result in increased Hamas attacks against Israel.
Meshal stated that an attack against Iran's nuclear facility would carry consequences, promising Hamas would "step up its war" against Israel.