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Iran Could Have Atomic Bomb Within Six Months


A cleric speaks with students as they look at a scale model of the nuclear fuel cycle at an exhibition of nuclear industry achievements at Iran's Shahid Beheshti University.

A cleric speaks with students as they look at a scale model of the nuclear fuel cycle at an exhibition of nuclear industry achievements at Iran's Shahid Beheshti University.

BERLIN (Reuters) -- Germany's BND foreign intelligence agency believes Iran is capable of producing and testing an atomic bomb within six months, much sooner than most analysts estimate, according to a report in the German weekly "Stern."

The report, which quotes BND experts, says the agency has information supporting the view that Iran has mastered the enrichment technology necessary to make a bomb and has enough centrifuges to make weaponized uranium.

"If they wanted to, they could detonate an atomic bomb in half a year's time," the story quoted a BND expert as saying.

The BND did not return two calls from Reuters seeking comment on the report.

Iran says its nuclear program is for electricity generation to help it export more of its oil and natural gas, but Western countries suspect it of trying to pursue a nuclear bomb.

The United Nations Security Council has imposed three sets of sanctions on Tehran for defying its demands to suspend uranium enrichment.

Some analysts say Iran may be close to having the required material for producing a bomb, but most say the weaponization process would then take one to two years due to technical and political hurdles.

"Weaponizing" enrichment would not escape the notice of the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), unless it was done at a secret location.

Until now there have been no indications of any such covert diversion, a point made by the IAEA's incoming director-general shortly after his election earlier this month.

Current IAEA chief Muhammad el-Baradei has said it is his "gut feeling" that Iran is seeking at least the capability to build nuclear weapons, in order to protect itself from perceived regional and U.S. threats.
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