In about “one month,” experts said, Iran could have enough material to fuel a single nuclear weapon, according to a New York Times report.
These experts, studying new data from recent IAEA reports, warned that by enriching nuclear fuel, in recent months, to levels close to bomb-level, Tehran has gained the ability to produce the fuel needed for a single nuclear warhead within a month or so. towards it.
A report released Monday by the Institute for Science and International Security, an independent group that analyzes the findings of the UN agency, concluded that Iran’s summer enrichment of uranium to a purity of 60 percent had a significant effect, making it able to produce One bomb fuel “within one month”. While it can “produce the second weapon fuel in less than three months, and the third in less than five months.”
The report’s lead author, David Albright, warned Friday that Iran’s actions indicate efforts by the new government of President Ebrahim Raisi to search for new, more appropriate, terms in negotiations to restore the 2015 nuclear deal with major powers. “We have to be careful, not to let them frighten us,” said Albright, who is also the institute’s president.
However, the New York Times says that manufacturing a real warhead, any one that could fit on an Iranian missile and withstand atmospheric re-entry, would take much longer.
However, Iran has not been so capable of making nuclear weapons since before former President Barack Obama approved the nuclear deal in 2015. The agreement forced the Iranians to send more than 97 percent of their fuel out of the country, and the United States said at the time that It will take at least a year for Iran to succeed in making a “breach” in producing nuclear fuel for a bomb.
US President Joe Biden’s administration officials have not commented on the IAEA reports, which were distributed on a confidential basis to member states but have been widely circulated in recent days.
When asked about this file, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said that Iran’s progress was so fast that restoring the previous agreement might not be helpful. He said, “We are approaching a stage where a strict return to compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action will not bring about the benefits achieved by the agreement.”
The agreement prevents Iran from enriching uranium to more than 3.67 percent, which is far below the 90 percent needed to develop a nuclear weapon, but Iran has continued to enrich uranium since the United States withdrew from the agreement in 2018, and the percentage has reached 60 percent.
Return to the Vienna negotiations
So far, no date has been announced for the resumption of the Vienna talks, which were halted in June, despite repeated calls from the West, which is concerned about Tehran’s nuclear behavior, which raised many questions about the Iranian reasons for procrastinating the return of the talks to their course, according to New York’s expression. Times.
Iran’s new foreign minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, said it might take two to three months to agree on terms for Iran’s return to negotiations, a timetable that irritated Europeans given the progress made with the previous Iranian government.
And the International Atomic Energy Agency strongly condemned Tehran’s lack of cooperation with it in implementing its mission to monitor the nuclear program after the latter suspended, last February, some inspections.
On Sunday, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization said it would allow the IAEA access to surveillance cameras at nuclear sites.
Under this agreement, the inspectors will be allowed to access their cameras and other equipment and turn them on again, but this does not address the problem of enriching uranium to levels much higher than allowed in the nuclear deal, and thus Tehran has become much closer to the material used to make bombs. than it was before 2015.
But Iran’s supply of 60 percent enriched uranium is not yet sufficient for a weapon, and yet it has spent the summer installing newer, high-performance centrifuges that can rapidly increase its stockpile.
And even if it does, keeping a large amount of highly enriched uranium on hand is not enough to produce a bomb, according to nuclear experts. The fuel must be converted into metal, a step the Iranians are also testing, according to International Atomic Agency reports, and then into a full warhead. This process may take additional months and possibly years depending on their technical skill.