Former IAEA Deputy Falsely Claims Iran Could Make Nukes in 6-8 Months

Accuses IAEA of letting Iran 'weaponize' uranium

Former IAEA deputy director Olli Heinonen, long a critic of his former employer, accused the IAEA in an interview of letting Iran “weaponize” uranium. He further claimed that Iran, with “maximum effort,” could produce a nuclear weapon in “six to eight months.”

Neither of these allegations were accurate by any stretch of the imagination. Heinonen was focusing on Iran improving its centrifuges. Despite this, Iran is still only enriching uranium to 3.6%, the level needed for its power plant, and far below the 90%+ needed for weapons-grade uranium.

Though the centrifuges conceivably could further enrich uranium beyond the levels presently being done, Iran has never attempted to enrich to anywhere near the 90% level, and has never suggested that they would even try.

Figuring out all of the subsequent levels of enrichment to get that high would be a long process, and going from the creation of weapons-grade uranium to a weapon, and a weapon to a deliverable warhead are both huge obstacles themselves, which historically take years for the nation to accomplish. The 6-8 months is not only unrealistic, it would be miraculous for any nation to pull off given the well-documented status of their civilian nuclear program.

Heinonen regularly hypes the “threat” posed by Iran. He is working for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a hawkish think tank that invests a great deal of its time and resources in anti-Iran statements.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of