Iran: the 20-percent solution

By Olli J. Heinonen

By Olli Heinonen

In my January 11 article, “The 20 Percent Solution,” on the Foreign Policy magazine website, I wrote that Iran is on its way to becoming a virtual nuclear weapon state — a state that is putting the building blocks in place if it decides to manufacture a nuclear weapon. My analysis indicates that Iran may reach such a capability by 2013.

I suggested a way out from the stalemate in which Iran could convince the international community that its nuclear program will follow a peaceful track. This would include Iran suspending the production of enriched uranium and converting its existing 3.5 percent and 20 percent enriched uranium stocks, with the assistance of the international community, into fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor, as well as for another modern research reactor that could be provided to Iran.

This approach would be good for Iran, as it would give the country a sustainable production of radioisotopes for industrial and medical uses in the shortest time.

See the original article for more background and a full discussion of Iran’s enrichment capacity.

Olli Heinonen, a senior fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, is a former deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, where he headed its Department of Safeguards.

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