Iran is getting dangerously close to developing a nuclear weapon, according to Richard Weitz’s recent article, which is informed by the documents and reports of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The IAEA believes that Iran could acquire nuclear weapons within one to five years. Iran has continuously ignored IAEA’s requests for information about its nuclear facilities and heavy water projects, and it refuses to provide information about its Fordow Enrichment Site near Qom. In addition, the IR-40 reactor that it is building in Arak is very similar to reactors in Pakistan, Israel, and India that are used to create plutonium for nuclear weapons. Iran claims that this reactor is used to develop isotopes for medical care and agriculture.

Furthermore, Iran refuses to acknowledge that keeping information about the construction of nuclear facilities secret until they are almost near completion is a violation of the IAEA regulations. Instead, it has reported the construction of new nuclear facilities to the IAEA only after they have been discovered by outside actors. It is unclear how many illegal secret sites exist.

However, the IAEA knows at least something about Iran’s nuclear development. In February, the agency reported that Iran continues to enrich large quantities of low-enriched uranium at the Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant. The IAEA also reported that Iran’s uranium enrichment program has increased its output from 2009 to 2010 more than it did between 2008 and 2009, despite the claims that Stuxnet, a computer worm, successfully infiltrated Iran’s nuclear facilities last year. Amazingly, Iran is still able to continue to enrich uranium at increasing rates and develop and test more efficient next-generation centrifuge models.

Even more worrisome is Iran’s progress on its ballistic missile program. This progress was apparent during a launch of a satellite into orbit in February 2010. The space-launch technology can be used to eventually target the U.S. homeland.

The U.S., its allies, and the international community need to take stronger measures against continuing nuclearization of Iran and impose stronger sanctions targeting Iran’s energy and banking sectors.

The U.S. government must provide for the common defense. The only way to protect and defend the U.S. and our allies from nuclear weaponry in the hands of rogue nations is to create sufficient integrated and layered missile defense architecture.

Haley Parks contributed to this post.