According to the senior nuclear official for the UN, Iran has enough highly enriched uranium to make “multiple” nuclear bombs if it so chooses. But given that Tehran is arming Russia in its conflict with Ukraine and that the Islamic Republic is experiencing upheaval, diplomatic measures to once more restrict its atomic programme appear more implausible than ever, as reported by AP News.
Iran’s nuclear program
The warning from Rafael Mariano Grossi of the International Atomic Energy Agency, in response to questions from European lawmakers this week, shows just how high the stakes have become over Iran’s nuclear program.
Even at the height of previous tensions between the West and Iran under hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad before the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran never enriched uranium as high as it does now.
For months, nonproliferation experts have suggested Iran had enough uranium enriched up to 60% to build at least one nuclear weapon — though Tehran long has insisted its program is for peaceful purposes.
“One thing is true: They have amassed enough nuclear material for several nuclear weapons, not one at this point,” Grossi said.
The Argentine diplomat then referred to Benjamin Netanyahu’s famous 2012 speech to the United Nations, in which the Israeli prime minister held up a placard of a cartoon-style bomb with a burning wick and drew a red line on it to urge the world to not allow Tehran’s program to highly enriched uranium.
Invasion of Iraq
“You remember there was to be this issue of the breakthrough and Mr Netanyahu drawing things at the U.N. and putting lines — well, that is long past. They have 70 kilograms (155 pounds) of uranium enriched at 60%. … The amount is there,” Grossi said. “That doesn’t mean they have a nuclear weapon. So they haven’t proliferated yet.”
By 2005 and wary of U.S. intentions after its invasion of Iraq, Pyongyang announced it had built nuclear weapons.
However, Iranian officials in recent months have begun openly talking about the prospect of building nuclear weapons.
Iran’s mission to the U.N., responding to questions about Grossi’s remarks, insisted in comments to The Associated Press on Thursday that Tehran “is prepared to stick to its commitments within the framework of the (deal) provided the other parties do the same.”
Iranian state television separately quoted Mohammad Eslami, the head of the country’s civilian nuclear program, as saying Tehran would welcome a visit by Grossi to the country.
At the State Department, the denials about Iran’s claims have grown more and more pointed.
Price and others in President Joe Biden’s administration say any future talks with Iran remain off the table as Tehran cracks down on the months-long protests after the death of Mahsa Amini, a young woman detained in September by the country’s morality police.
At least 527 people have been killed and over 19,500 arrested amid the unrest, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group monitoring the protests.
Another part of the Americans’ exasperation — and increasingly of the Europeans as well — comes from Iran arming Russia with the bomb-carrying drones that repeatedly have targeted power plants and civilian targets across Ukraine.
It remains unclear what Tehran, which has a strained history with Moscow, expects to get for supplying Russia with arms.
Such fighter jets would provide key air defence for Iran, particularly as its nuclear sites could increasingly be eyed.
Israel, which has carried out strikes to halt nuclear programs in Iraq and Syria, has warned it will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear bomb.
The U.S. and Israel also launched their largest-ever joint air, land and sea exercise this week with over 140 warplanes, an aircraft carrier group and nearly 8,000 troops called Juniper Oak.
The Pentagon described the drill as “not meant to be oriented around any single adversary or threat.”
But he still urged more diplomacy as Tehran still would need to design and test any possible nuclear weapon.
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Source: AP News