Expert: Iran offers no surprises over nukes

Much of the world is lined up against Iran's nuclear program. Israel is threatening to go to war over it, and the U.S. is pushing for extreme new sanctions.

So it may have come as a surprise when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad went on TV to brag about their nuclear achievements. Ahmadinejad claimed his country has made a major advance in the process of enriching uranium, which is necessary to make the fuel for a bomb.

Iran's president may have impressed his own people by showcasing his country's latest advances in nuclear technology, but CBS News correspondent David Martin reports that experts like David Albright found no new evidence Iran is dramatically closer to building a bomb.

"The announcement today certainly is an attempt to show Iranian resolve in the face of international opposition, but they say that every day, and this doesn't really add any credibility to that threat," said Albright, founder of the non-profit Institute for Science and International Security.

Both the fuel rods loaded into a research reactor and the new centrifuges for enriching uranium had already been seen by U.N. inspectors and so came as no surprise to U.S. intelligence.

"But it does show continuing progress that's building toward a capability that if Iran made a decision to build nuclear weapons it could implement fairly quickly," Albright says.

Iran says its new centrifuges can enrich uranium three times faster than the current generation of centrifuges.

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While Albright says this means Iran will need less centrifuges than previously, U.S. officials say the new centrifuges are still in research and development and not yet enriching uranium, which still leaves Iran dependent on 9,000 of the older centrifuges.

At the same time Iran says it is now willing to return to talks aimed at limiting its nuclear program. it could be a ploy to buy time, or it could be a signal Iran is starting to feel the pressure.

  • David Martin

    David Martin is CBS News' National Security Correspondent.

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