Iran could have enough weapons-grade uranium for one or more nuclear bombs by as early as mid-2014, according to a report by US nonproliferation experts.
The report, titled "US Nonproliferation Strategy for the Changing Middle East," was released on Monday.
"Based on the current trajectory of Iran's nuclear program, we estimate that Iran could reach critical capability in mid-2014," said the report.
"We recommend that the United States and its allies impose maximal sanctions pressure on Iran prior to Iran's reaching 'critical capability.' We define 'critical capability' as the point at which Iran will be able to produce enough weapon-grade uranium (or sufficient separated plutonium) for one or more bombs before the production of such an amount can reasonably be expected to be detected by the IAEA or Western intelligence services."
On Sunday, Iran's head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said the country had made progress in its nuclear program despite sanctions, according to Iranian state-run Press TV.
"We are self-sufficient in discovery, extraction, and production processes and we do not need [help from] other countries," said Fereydoun Abbasi.
"We have made good progress in the design and construction of reactors and Arak’s heavy water [facility] is fully operational and the country’s nuclear energy program and fuel cycle are being developed using indigenous know-how," he said.
Last Friday, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency Yukiya Amano expressed pessimism about progress in talks with Iran set for this week.
The New York Times said the talks are aimed at inspectors being allowed access to a restricted military area, which may have been used for atomic bomb-trigger testing.
More on GlobalPost: IAEA chief not hopeful on Iran nuclear talks