ABC Blotter sources: Iran could have nukes by 2009

Brian Ross and Christopher Isham at ABC’s Blotter are citing anonymous sources as saying Iran may have enough material to make a nuke by 2009:

Iran has more than tripled its ability to produce enriched uranium in the last three months, adding some 1,000 centrifuges which are used to separate radioactive particles from the raw material.

The development means Iran could have enough material for a nuclear bomb by 2009, sources familiar with the dramatic upgrade tell ABC News.

The sources say the unexpected expansion is taking place at Iran’s nuclear enrichment plant outside the city of Natanz, in a hardened facility 70 feet underground.

A spokesperson for the United Nation’s International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA, declined to comment citing the “extreme sensitivity” of the situation with Iran.

“Sensitivity” over the situation with Iran has never stopped the IAEA from commenting on their nuke capabilities before. From this December 5, 2005 Jerusalem Post piece:

IAEA chairman Muhammad ElBaradei on Monday confirmed Israel’s assessment that Iran is only a few months away from creating an atomic bomb.

If Teheran indeed resumed its uranium enrichment in other plants, as threatened, it will take it only “a few months” to produce a nuclear bomb, El-Baradei told The Independent.

But six months later:

Iran does not pose an immediate nuclear threat and the world must act cautiously to avoid repeating mistakes made with Iraq and North Korea, the head of the U.N, nuclear watchdog agency said on Tuesday.

Mohamed ElBaradei, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said the world shouldn’t “jump the gun” with erroneous information as he said the U.S.-led coalition did in Iraq in 2003, nor should it push the country into retaliation as international sanctions did in North Korea.

“Our assessment is that there is no immediate threat,” the winner of the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize told a forum organized by the Monterey Institute of International Studies south of San Francisco. “We still have lots of time to investigate.”

With contradictory quotes like those, it’s probably a good idea that the IAEA is keeping its trap shut right about now. They don’t seem to know which end is up. In fact, if you read ElBaradei’s comments, you’ll see that he sounds suspiciously like certain Democrats in the Senate who recently accused the President of overhyping the threat from Iran “just like he did Iraq.”

Birds of a feather …

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