It took the U.S. 3 years and one month to build and explode it's first atomic bomb. The Manhattan project was kicked off in June 1942 and on July 16th, the first bomb was exploded at Alamagordo, New Mexico.
Yesterday on the news, it was announced that the IAEA
says that Iran is 5-10 years away on making an atomic bomb.
I don't get it. In 1942, everything had to be build from scratch. Deadends were identified and many new technologies were developed (many of the Manhattan Project physicists went on to start companies based on their technologies after the war. Things as mundane as new filter technologies made some of them very very wealthy). It only took them 3 years.
Nowdays you can buy high speed gas centerfuges from China. Sure they are dissasembled so you can pretend that they are the most expensive rocket artillery casings ever produced and their is some assembly required. But everything you need can be bought, if not on the open market, there's a Ukranian physicist out of work with some stuff he's salvaged.
I've seen physicists build working spectrometers in their garage over one weekend with stuff they bought at the local pawn shop. Well, everything but the birefringent optical component. It's amazing what a guy who knows what he's doing can build.
High end stereo components can be used to synchronize the shaped charges in an implosion device. My understand is limited, but the rifle type fission device is even simpler.
There is the issue of productivity. The U.S. spent millions (billions?) on the Manhattan Project. The U.S. believed it was in a race with the Nazi's to build the bomb first and probably worked at a feverish pace.
Iran knows their enemies have the bomb. They may not fear losing a world war, but I'm sure the Imams have their motivation techniques down.
Maybe it takes Iran 3 years to achieve what it took the U.S. a year to acomplish in the early 40's. Who knows? But four or five decades of nuclear knowledge is widely dissemenated and the hardware to refine the fissionable materials is easier to buy then make.
How long did it take South Africa, Tiawan, and Isreal to build nukes in their little joint venture? Was it 5-10 years after they had been working on the project for years? Probably not. Did they have help? Probably. Is anyone helping Iran? Can you say North Korea? Probably. China? Maybe.
Anyway, the only way it'll take Iran 5-10 years to build a nuke is if time begins to dilate and we all start moving in slowmotion. But then the clocks will also be slowed and we won't notice, will we.
I bet it'll happen sooner than that.