via Lobe Log

The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) has released a brief report emphasizing that Iran continues to move toward nuclear weapons capability and the international community must halt further progress. ISIS’s latest concern centers around Iranian lawmaker Mansour Haqiqatpour’s October 2 comment that Iran could enrich uranium to 60 percent if diplomatic talks fail. From Reuters:

“In case our talks with the (six powers) fail to pay off, Iranian youth will master (the technology for) enrichment up to 60 percent to fuel submarines and ocean-going ships,” Haqiqatpour said.

The powers should know that “if these talks continue into next year, Iran cannot guarantee it would keep its enrichment limited to 20 percent. This enrichment is likely to increase to 40 or 50 percent,” he said.

The US and international community should prepare for an official Iranian announcement of such high-grade enrichment, warns ISIS, adding that Iran has “no need to produce highly enriched uranium at all, even if it wanted nuclear fuel for a reactor powering nuclear submarines or other naval vessels, or for a research reactor”. The move would also “significantly shortens Iran’s dash time to reaching weapon grade uranium,” the report said.

ISIS’s conclusion:

Taken in this context, any official Iranian announcement to make highly enriched uranium should be seen as unacceptable. Many will view such a decision as equivalent to initiating a breakout to acquire nuclear  weapons, reducing any chance for negotiations to work and potentially increasing the chances for military  strikes and war. Before Iran announces official plans to make highly enriched uranium, the United States and  the other members of the P5+1 should quietly but clearly state to Iran what it risks by producing highly  enriched uranium under any pretext.

No details are provided as to what exactly needs to be done to make Iran understand that such a move would be “unacceptable”, but we are informed that Iranian enrichment of high-grade uranium would increase the chances for military conflict.

The fact that Iran is still years aways from being able to test a device, and according to US and international official assessments has still not made the decision to do so, is also absent from ISIS’s report. Indeed, according to the bipartisan Iran Project report on the benefits and costs of military action on Iran (emphasis mine):

After deciding to “dash” for a bomb, Iran would need from one to four months to produce enough weapons-grade  uranium for a single nuclear device. Additional time—up to two years, according  to conservative estimates—would be required for Iran to build a nuclear warhead  that would be reliably deliverable by a missile. Given extensive monitoring and  surveillance of Iranian activities, signs of an Iranian decision to build a nuclear  weapon would likely be detected, and the U.S. would have at least a month to  implement a course of action.