In the last few months, Iran has advanced to the brink of having a nuclear weapon.
It has accumulated at least two tons of enriched uranium – enough to make two nuclear bombs, according to a U.N. report released Monday. Though the uranium is meant to be used for power generation and a medical reactor, it’s a short step from there to bomb-grade fuel.
The same technology can easily be ramped up to make nuclear weapons, said physicist David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington. “If they wanted to make highly enriched uranium, they could do it,” he said, referring to bomb-grade material. He estimates the Iranians are 18 months away.
Albright and other scientists who have followed the situation say Iran is moving toward a uranium bomb – the same type used on Hiroshima. Such weapons are relatively easy to engineer, they say. The challenge, as it was for Manhattan Project scientists, is getting enough of the explosive form of uranium, known as uranium 235.
But new technology makes that easier all the time.