[We may all soon become candidates for the Darwin Awards at this rate. Where have we seen this before.]

Dear Sir

Concerning Julian Borger’s article, Decision time for US over Iran threat, Julian says:

The installation of 3,000 fully-functioning centrifuges at Iran’s enrichment plant at Natanz is a “red line” drawn by the US across which Washington had said it would not let Iran pass. When spinning at full speed they are capable of producing sufficient weapons-grade uranium (enriched to over 90% purity) for a nuclear weapon within a year.

The reader would be forgiven for assuming after reading the above paragraph that, according to the IAEA, the Iranians are within a year of having produced enough highly-enriched fuel to make a nuclear bomb, but, as I am sure Julian Borger is well aware, no reputable expert believes any such thing. This is what Frank Barnaby of the Oxford Research Group had to say last year in IRAN’S NUCLEAR ACTIVITIES:

Iran will, however, have to solve a difficult technical problem before producing significant amounts of highly enriched uranium. Iranian uranium is reportedly contaminated with large amounts of molybdenum and other heavy metals. These impurities could condense and block pipes and valves in the gas centrifuges. In spite of this problem, the Iranians should be able to enrich uranium to the low enrichment needed for civil nuclear-power reactor fuel. But they would not be able to enrich above about 20 per cent in uranium-235.

They would, therefore, not be able to produce uranium enriched enough for use in nuclear weapons. To do so they would first have to remove most of the molybdenum. They would need foreign technical help – from, for example, China or Russia – to solve this problem.

Many doubt if the Iranians will be able, in the foreseeable future, unaided, to enrich their own uranium to the high levels needed for nuclear weapons.

Is this really the right choice of topic to sensationalise?

Yours faithfully,

Chris Dornan

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