The installation of the nearly 3,000 centrifuge machines at Qom could allow it to reach this point much quicker, experts say, if the machines there and at a second nuclear-fuel site at the city of Natanz are utilized.
“The number of centrifuges are steadily increasing, which diminishes the time for a breakout for a nuclear weapon in two ways,” said Olli Heinonen, a former chief weapons inspector at the IAEA. “Iran’s inventories will increase as well as its pace of production.” Tehran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes and denies it is pursuing bomb production.
Iran currently has a stockpile of 232 kilograms of 20% enriched uranium, or about 510 pounds, of which 96 kilograms has been detected for the production of fuel plates, according to the IAEA. Nuclear experts estimate that Iran would need 220 to 250 kilograms to produce one nuclear weapon.
They said Iran’s rate of quarterly production could grow to around 25 kilograms per month with the Qom facility fully operational.