Iran is at least two years away from producing a single nuclear weapon, according to an in-depth report published by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Thursday.
“The totality of the evidence indicates beyond reasonable doubt that Iran also seeks a capability to produce nuclear weapons should its leaders choose to take this momentous step,” said the strategic dossier on Iran’s Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Capabilities.
Iran’s capability to produce nuclear weapons had been ‘growing inexorably for the 25 years’, but it had not been an ‘all-out, crash effort’, said the report. However, many estimates compiled by Western intelligence agencies had failed ‘to clearly distinguish between the time needed to produce the fissile material for a weapon, or the difference between a nuclear device and a deliverable weapon’, said IISS Iran expert, Mark Fitzpatrick.
The IISS estimate, which had been reviewed by international experts, ‘is neither worst-nor best-case’, the report concluded. The assessment that a single weapon would take at least two years from now to build assumes that Iran would be relying on the equipment at its Natanz uranium enrichment plant and would employ methods used by other nuclear proliferators, it said.
“Iran hopes to maintain ambiguity over its intentions. If it does decide to build nuclear weapons, this would likely be detected before it assembled a single weapon, much less the small arsenal that would be needed to make the risk worthwhile. An Iranian nuclear weapon is therefore not inevitable,” said the IISS report.