Topic: Iran's nuclear program
MOSCOW, July 16 (RIA Novosti) - Iran has the capacity to build a nuclear bomb and conduct a nuclear test similar to North Korea's by the end of this year, a popular German magazine has said.
Western powers led by the United States, along with Israel, have accused Tehran of attempting to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missile technology for their delivery. Iran says it needs its nuclear program for electric power generation, and its missile program for space exploration.
"If they wanted to, they could set off a uranium bomb within six months," the Stern magazine quoted a source in the German Foreign Intelligence Service (BND) as saying.
Iran has already acquired the full-cycle uranium enrichment technology, and has enough centrifuges to produce weapons-grade uranium, the source said.
Tehran announced in late February that it had 6,000 operating centrifuges at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility and was planning to install a total of 50,000 over the next five years.
Although Iran still does not have delivery vehicles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, the country is pursuing an extensive ballistic missile program and could develop missiles with a range to reach targets in Europe in the next three years, the BND source said.
Iran successfully launched last year an upgraded Shahab-3 ballistic missile as part of a navy exercise, dubbed Great Prophet 3, in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.
With a reported range of 2,000 kilometers and armed with a 1-ton conventional warhead, the Shahab-3 puts Israel, Turkey, the Arabian peninsula, Afghanistan and Pakistan within striking distance.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared the country a nuclear and space power in March after the country reportedly put a domestic communications satellite into orbit.
The Stern magazine also said Iran was secretly acquiring components and know-how for its ballistic missiles in the West, including in Germany.
The publication said Iranian national Said Mohammad Hosseinian was "operating a massive network of dummy companies," which obtain missile technology in foreign countries in violation of the UN Resolution 1747.
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The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.