U.S. report: Iran nuclear program hit obstacles in 2011 (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Amir Oren 04/06/12)
HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE
HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE Articles-Index-Top
Iran continued to advance its nuclear program in 2011, a CIA report
indicated this week, adding, however, that Tehran´s nuclear ambitions
were frustrated by what the survey said were "some obstacles."
The findings were cited in an annual report on the "Acquisition of
Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced
Conventional Munitions," submitted to Congress by U.S. Director of
National Intelligence James Clapper.
In the last few days, top U.S. administration officials have
expressed concern as a result of what they said was Iranian
activities aimed against American forces and their allies in both
Iraq and Afghanistan.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described the risk of
instability that the Iranian activity represents, warning, however,
of the danger of taking military action to thwart it.
The CIA report released this week mainly reiterates assertions made
by Clapper, as well as those made by the Pentagon´s intelligence
director Ronald Burgess and other senior officials as well as
repeating data presented in reports by the International Atomic
Mainly, the survey deals with Iran´s actual capabilities, as opposed
to estimates regarding what the Iranian leadership intends to do with
those capabilities; the report equally excludes descriptions of
Iran´s behavior and the actions that could take place as a result of
According to Clapper, until the beginning of November 2011, Iran
produced about 4,900 kilograms of low-grade enriched uranium in its
Natanz facility, compared to 3,200 kilograms by November of 2010, and
1,800 kilograms the year before.
Following a further enrichment process, Iran accumulated, up until
five months ago, 4,150 kilograms of uranium enriched to 3.5 percent
and 80 kilograms of uranium enriched to 20 percent, which is still
lower than weapons-grade enrichment levels.
In addition, while the number of centrifuges was reduced between
August 2012 and November 2011 by about 10 percent – from 8,900 to
8,000 – the number of operational centrifuges in fact rose from 3,800
Centrifuges, the report said, were installed in the underground
facility in Fordo, near Qom, where Iran began enriching its uranium
to 20 percent; the nuclear facility in Isfahan was shut down for
maintenance from August 2009 to November 2011.
According to the report, Iran has almost exhausted its imported
supply of "yellow cake," used in the enrichment process.
In the field of weapons development, the report claimed that Iran
continued its work on long-range ballistic missiles, in addition to
its development of missiles threatening naval vessels in the Persian
Gulf; underground launch silos; satellite launching capabilities; and
advanced communications systems.
Iran, in addition, is striving toward a completely independent
ballistic missile assembly line, as it is still dependent on key
foreign-made components, which it receives from firms, scientists,
and engineers from North Korea, Russia, and China.
U.S. intelligences also estimated that Iran had maintained its
chemical and biological warfare capabilities, as well as developing
what could be offensive applications of these capacities.
Regarding Syria´s WMD aspirations, Clapper indicted that Damascus
clandestine nuclear program, one on which it cooperated with North
Korea, operated for more than a decade, since the late 1990s and
until the 2007 destruction of the "Kibar" reactor.
According to the report, had the reactor not been destroyed – in an
action attributed to the Israeli air force – the Syrian plant could
have started producing weapons-grade plutonium. The IAEA´s
investigation of the "Syrian nuclear case" is ongoing.
In addition, Syria´s ballistic missile stockpile continues to be
extensive, with U.S. officials concerned of the possibility that the
missiles could find their way outside Syria´s borders.
Terror groups, al-Qaida specifically, are interested in nuclear,
chemical, and biological capabilities, mostly in reference to
relatively simple toxic materials. Counter measures reportedly
disrupted al-Qaida´s attempts to develop advanced offensive
capabilities in these domains. (© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 04/06/12)
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY