Iran has produced nearly enough nuclear material to create one atomic bomb, nuclear experts told The New York Times.
The experts used the figures reported in an International Atomic Energy Agency routine update, released Wednesday, to determine that Iran could make the bomb, with some additional work, including purifying the material and putting it into a nuclear warhead. Experts do not know if Iran has this know-how.
“They clearly have enough material for a bomb,” Richard Garwin, a nuclear physicist who helped invent the hydrogen bomb, told the Times. “They know how to do the enrichment. Whether they know how to design a bomb, well, that’s another matter.”
The IAEA report says that as of early November, Iran had enriched about 1,390 pounds of uranium. While Iran claims it is planning to use its nuclear program to generate power, the United States, Israel and other Western nations believe Iran is planning to make nuclear weapons.
The U.N. nuclear watchdog also said Iran was obstructing investigations and that without the requisite transparency, the group "will not be able to provide credible assurances about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran."
In a separate report Wednesday, the Vienna-based watchdog said a Syrian building destroyed by Israeli combat planes in a September 2007 strike had the characteristics of a nuclear reactor. The report noted that Syria removed topsoil in the wake of the attack, frustrating IAEA attempts to determine with certainty whether or not the site was a reactor.