According to Israeli intelligence documents obtained by Ma’ariv, Iran has accelerated the pace at which it is enriching uranium to create the shortest possible “storming distance” between it and a nuclear weapon.
According to the reports, Iran has been enriching uranium at a rate of some 12 kilograms every month to a level of 20 per cent enrichment. Western intelligence experts, cited by Ma’ariv, note that Iran has been able to accelerate the pace of enrichment due to the fact that they are now operating close to 10,000 centrifuges, which are also more sophisticated than centrifuges previously used by Iran.
However, whilst Iran’s nuclear enrichment continues apace, according to a new report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies the financial and oil sanctions imposed on Iran by the West has affected the Islamic Republic’s ballistic missile development programme.
According to the IISS report, the financial sanctions “have stymied efforts to develop and produce the long-range ballistic missiles capable of striking potential targets in Western Europe and beyond.” Nevertheless, despite shortfalls in its long-range missile programme, Iran’s Sajjil-2 missile – which has a maximum range of about 2,000km – can still reach Israel and much of southern Europe. Iran, however, has only tested the Sajjil-2 about 20 times, not enough to make the missile operational, and IISS notes that Tehran would need to conduct “at least another half-dozen flight tests” before the missile could be considered operational.
Meanwhile, the sanctions imposed by Europe and the US have continued to wreak strategic damage on the Iranian economy. It was recently learned that Iran has reduced its oil production by 15 to 20%, from some 3.5 million barrels a day to just 3 million.