´Iran could recover from military strike in 6 months´ (JERUSALEM POST) By BLOOMBERG 03/29/12)
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Iran’s “workshops” for making nuclear centrifuges and components for
the devices are widely dispersed and hidden, adding to the
difficulties of a potential military strike by Israel, according to a
new report by US congressional researchers. A senior official
surmised that Iran could recover from a military strike on its
centrifuge facilities within six months.
Neither Israel nor the US is certain of the locations of all such
facilities, analysts for the Congressional Research Service wrote in
the report obtained Wednesday. The analysts cited interviews with
current and former US government officials familiar with the issue
who weren’t identified.
Israel’s capability to halt or set back Iran’s nuclear program
through a military strike has been central to the debate over whether
Israel should undertake such a mission alone. While US President
Barack Obama has urged more time for economic sanctions to work,
Israeli officials led by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and
Defense Minister Ehud Barak say it may soon be too late to prevent
Iran from developing the capability to develop a nuclear weapon.
The likelihood of dispersed facilities complicates any assessment of
a potential raid’s success, making it “unclear what the ultimate
effect of a strike would be on the likelihood of Iran acquiring
nuclear weapons,” the report found.
A US official said in April 2011 that there “could be lots of
workshops’ in Iran,” the authors said. Last month, a former US
government official with “direct experience” in the issue told the
researchers that “Iran’s centrifuge production is widely distributed
and that the number of workshops has probably multiplied ‘many times’
since 2005 because of an increase in Iranian contractors and
subcontractors working on the program.”
“An attack that left Iran’s conversion and centrifuge production
facilities intact would considerably reduce” the time Iran would need
to resume its nuclear work, said the congressional researchers led by
Jim Zanotti, a Middle Eastern affairs specialist. He wrote the report
with analysts Kenneth Katzman, Jeremiah Gertler and Steven Hildreth.
Israel, the US and European allies say they are concerned that Iran
may begin trying to produce the highly enriched uranium needed for a
nuclear weapon. Iran says its nuclear program is intended solely to
generate power and for medical research. Centrifuges spin at high
speeds to separate uranium isotopes.
Michael Hayden, a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency,
said in January “that neither the US nor Israel knows the location of
all key Iranian nuclear-related facilities,” according to the
Assessments vary on how much impact a military attack would have on
Iran’s centrifuge facilities. An executive branch official who wasn’t
named told the research service last month that Iran doesn’t have
enough spare centrifuges or components to install new devices
immediately, the authors wrote. A former official said the same day
that Iran probably could rebuild or replicate most centrifuge
workshops within six months, the researchers said.
Nuclear inspectors for the International Atomic Energy Agency have
sought for years to regain access to centrifuge workshops.
“The agency’s knowledge of Iran’s workshops has deteriorated since
Iran ended this access in early 2006,” the researchers wrote.
The IAEA wrote in a November 2007 report that the agency’s knowledge
of Iran’s program was “diminishing” because of restricted access to
centrifuge workshops, even though Iranian answers about its past
centrifuge programs were “consistent” with inspectors’ findings. (©
1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 03/29/12)
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