The head of a strategic arms research centre at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow says that once Iran gets a nuclear weapon it would be â€œuntouchableâ€ and could broaden its support for groups and movements like Hamas and Hezbollah. His statement contradicts his own governmentâ€™s official position.
Iran could have the A-bomb in â€œone or two years,â€ said Vladimir Dvorkin, head of a strategic arms research centre at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow. When asked how close Iran was to having a nuclear weapon, Dvorkin, a retired general and veteran player in US-Soviet disarmament talks in the 1970s and 1980s, said â€œOne can speak of 1 or 2 years.â€
Dvorkin, who voiced his personal views and not those of the Russian government, contradicted US intelligence reports and his own governmentâ€™s view that Iran is still far from having a nuclear weapon.
â€œIn the technical sense, what may be holding them back is the lack of enough weapons-grade uranium,â€ Dvorkin said.
More importantly, â€œI consider this a significant threatâ€ because Iran â€œhas effectively ignored all the resolutions and sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Councilâ€. As â€œa nuclear state [it] would become untouchable, allowing it to broaden its supportâ€ for organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah.
Officially, Russian diplomats have downplayed US and Israeli fears that Iran is on the verge of building an atomic weapon, while Moscow has resisted calls for tougher sanctions on Tehran for its disputed nuclear program. Iranâ€™s clerical rulers have continued to claim that their nuclear program is entirely peaceful.
Russia has helped Iran to build a civilian nuclear power plant in Bushehr, which is now finished and undergoing testing.
Early this month the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) accused Tehran of concealing 209 kilos of uranium, noting that it was unable to achieve any â€œsubstantiveâ€ progress in the investigation intended to reveal whether Tehranâ€™s nuclear program has military aspects.
â€œRegrettably,â€ said an IAEA statement, â€œas a result of the continued lack of cooperation by Iran in connection with the remaining issues which give rise to concerns about the possible military dimensions of Iranâ€™s nuclear program, the agency has not been able to make substantive progress on these issues.â€