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Iran feared to be MONTHS from building nuclear bomb at secret base ‘buried so deep under mountain missiles can’t hit it’

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IRAN is feared to be well on its way to producing a nuclear bomb inside one of its secret missile-proof weapons bases.

A nuclear weapons expert revealed a truly disturbing timeline which could see Tehran producing a nuclear bomb in as little as six months from one of it’s “covert” sites.

Iran's capability to build a nuclear bomb has rapidly increased in recent years (file image)

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Iran’s capability to build a nuclear bomb has rapidly increased in recent years (file image)
Iran has a spate of dangerous nuclear sites, some of which are hidden underground, pictured: Isfahan power plant

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Iran has a spate of dangerous nuclear sites, some of which are hidden underground, pictured: Isfahan power plant
Iranian technicians work at one of the country's uranium sites

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Iranian technicians work at one of the country’s uranium sitesCredit: Reuters
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei - who has rapidly expanded Iran's nuclear program in recent years

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Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei – who has rapidly expanded Iran’s nuclear program in recent years

Iran’s formidable Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has overseen the rapid expansion of its nuclear program in recent years.

The country is thought to now harbour plenty of the highly enriched element – just shy of the weapons grade level needed to make an atomic bomb.

Policy director at Arms Control Association Kelsey Davenport warned: “Iran is sitting on the threshold of nuclear weapons; it can build a bomb more quickly than at any point in its history.”

Painting a terrifying picture, she revealed that Tehran could carve out enough weapons-grade uranium for a nuclear bomb in as little as six months.

To build an explosive device, she estimates Iran would need less than a week and could produce five or six in just a month from its “covert, undeclared sites”.

Near Iran’s Zagros Mountains is a particularly nefarious nuclear facility under development, buried deep in the earth.

If Tehran makes the political decision to develop a nuclear arsenal, it can produce enough weapons-grade uranium for an explosive device in less than a week and enough for five or six weapons in a month

Kelsey Davenport

The secretive lab is being carved out so far under the surface that it would likely be beyond the range of foreign missiles designed to strike such hubs, AP reports.

Davenport described the facility as “a nightmare scenario that risks igniting a new escalatory spiral.”

She said: “If Tehran makes the political decision to develop a nuclear arsenal, it can produce enough weapons-grade uranium for an explosive device in less than a week and enough for five or six weapons in a month.

“Building a bomb would take more time – likely six months to a year – but that process will take place at covert, undeclared sites, making it more difficult to detect and disrupt.”

Since just 2019, Iran has increased its amount of enriched uranium from 997kg to 5,525kg.

In the past year alone it has seen a 38 per cent increase.

While Tehran has said it has no plans to weaponise the uranium, officials have openly bragged about their ability to do so.

Britain and the US have spent years trying to figure out how to limit Iran’s nuclear ambitions without going to war.

But recent bubbling tensions in the Middle East and reports that Israel could strike Iranian nuclear sites are doing nothing to limit escalations.

A former UK Foreign Office worker told i: “I don’t think the world realises how advanced the Iran nuclear programme has got. The issue has long been how to bring Iran back to some form of a deal.”

Biden is now said to be looking at a new nuclear deal with Iran as a way to cool tensions – after Donald Trump pulled out of the last negotiation in 2018 – all but destroying it.

Iran’s Nuclear Sites

IRAN, a formidable and dangerous world power, is home to a number of nuclear sites.

It is thought to have active nuclear sites, research reactors and uranium mines.

Arak plant – satellite pictures of this plant near the Iranian town of Arak surfaced over 20 years ago.

It contains a heavy-water reactor with plutonium that can be used for nuclear bombs.

Bushehr nuclear power station – this power plant is a combination of Russian and German engineering.

It’s nuclear reactor is operating at 100% power and the site is home to enriched uranium, used for nuclear bombs.

Gachin uranium mine – home to uranium ore concentrate, or yellowcake, which can be transformed into enriched uranium ready for nuke bomb assembling.

Isfahan conversion plant – yellowcake is converted here into three dangerous substances.

Hexafluoride gase used in the enrichment process, uranium oxide used to fuel reactors and metal used in the cores of nuclear bombs.

Natanz uranium enrichment plant – this is Iran’s largest enrichment base.

It’s made up of three underground buildings and is closely watched by the international community.

Parchin military site – south of Tehran, this site is focused on research and the production of ammo, rockets and explosives.

Concerns have been raised that it is also used as part of Iran’s nuclear weapon development.

Qom uranium enrichment plant – a heavily fortified and initially secret facility where Iran carries out uranium enrichment.

A view of what is believed to be a uranium-enrichment facility near Qom, Iran, in a satellite photograph

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A view of what is believed to be a uranium-enrichment facility near Qom, Iran, in a satellite photographCredit: Reuters

Striking of nuclear sites

A former intelligence leader from Israel’s Mossad agency told Sky news yesterday that “everything is on the table right now” when asked if Israel could strike Iranian nuclear sites.

Concerning reports first surfaced almost two weeks ago that Israel could be readying to hit the nuclear hubs.

Israeli forces were even said to be conducting secret air force drills in preparation for the dangerous escalation.

Days later, Iran launched its aerial barrage of more than 330 cruise missiles, ballistic missiles and attack drones in an unprecedented ambush.

Since then fractured relations between the countries have completely broken down as their leaders trade snarling threats of retaliation back and forth.

The UN’s nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi has warned that Israel could indeed target Iran’s nuclear sites.

He said Tehran has barricaded up its nuclear facilities over “security considerations”.

An Iranian outlet reported that Grossi is set to visit Tehran himself after urging Israel show “extreme restraint” in any revenge strikes.

Ali Ansari, a professor of Iranian studies and a member of think tank RUSI, told The Sun that nuclear sites in Iran would be a “natural target” for Israeli forces.

Timing of attack

After days of speculation, an unnamed US official has revealed that Netanyahu’s war cabinet may not launch it’s planned revenge strike until later this month.

The IDF is reportedly planning to wait until the end of Jewish holiday Passover, which ends on April 30, ABC reports.

Three Israeli officials also told the outlet that the IDF had prepped and then ditched two different attacks against Iran this week.

Herzi Halevi, Israel’s army chief of staff, told troops: “We are enabling a home front policy to at least give citizens this Passover week to live almost like normal because we completely trust you and your readiness.”

Most reports suggest Israel has decided on the nature of a “strategic and painful” retaliatory hit – but the timing has yet to be decided.

World leaders have begged for cool heads to prevail and UK foreign secretary David Cameron flew to Jerusalem yesterday to reason with Netanyahu over limiting possible escalations.

But the embattled Israeli PM swore Israel would “make its own decisions” when it came to choosing a response.

According to Kan11, Israel’s initial planned attack for early Sunday was ditched after Biden called Netanyahu and urged him not to.

The US have reportedly accepted Israel’s plan to continue its postponed operation into Rafah in return for not unleashing a massive strike on Iran.

Unnamed officials told a Qatari outlet: “The American administration showed acceptance of the plan previously presented by the occupation government regarding the military operation in Rafah, in exchange for not carrying out a large-scale attack against Iran.”

Top brass in Iran’s ruthless Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and other leaders are still on high alert, with some squirrelled away in safe houses or underground facilities for their protection.

Iran’s enriched uranium timeline

IRAN’s enriched uranium progress has picked up since the collapse of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known as the Iran nuclear deal, in 2018.

Signed in 2015, it saw Western sanctions against Iran lessened in exchange for more transparency over its nuclear facilities.

Those that signed it included the UK, US, EU, China and Russia.

Former president Donald Trump, at the time vying to oust Barack Obama, branded it “the worst deal ever”.

In 2018, then president, he pulled the US out of the deal.

As a result the treaty essentially collapsed and Biden’s attempts to revive it have failed.

While Tehran under the deal had to agree not to stockpile enough enriched uranium for a bomb – it has since pulled out of certain aspects blaming US withdrawal.

In 2020 it resumed enriching uranium to 20 per cent at its Fordow plant.

In 2021 it began enriching it to 60 per cent.

And by February this year IAEA inspectors noted uranium particles enriched to 83.7 per cent.

It needs to hit 90 per cent to be sufficient for weapon-making.

It remains difficult to know exactly where Iran is enriching uranium, by how much and at what speed because of a lack of transparency in the country for international inspections.

Iran is currently not allowing inspections, citing security concerns over a possible Israeli strike.

Biden reportedly made a deal with Israel over the timing of its revenge attack on Iran

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Biden reportedly made a deal with Israel over the timing of its revenge attack on Iran
Iran could be just months away from building a nuclear bomb

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Iran could be just months away from building a nuclear bomb
A down Iranian ballistic missile lies on the shore of the Dead Sea

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A down Iranian ballistic missile lies on the shore of the Dead Sea

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