Iran One Month Away From Enough Weapons-grade Uranium for Nuke, Report Says

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Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shows an illustration as he describes his concerns over Iran's nuclear stockpile during his address at the United Nations General Assembly, in 2012.
Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shows an illustration as he describes his concerns over Iran's nuclear stockpile during his address at the United Nations General Assembly, in 2012.Credit: Richard Drew / AP

Iran is one month away from having enough highly enriched uranium for "a single nuclear weapon," the New York Times reported Tuesday, adding that this development may increase pressure on the United States to return to the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran and world powers.

According to the report, new data from the International Atomic Energy Agency report last week shows that Tehran has gained the capacity to produce enough weapons-grade uranium for a single nuclear weapon, though assembling the nuclear warhead itself will take much longer - months, perhaps even years.

Experts from the Institute for Science and International Security analyzed the recent report, concluding that, in the most extreme scenario, Iran can produce enough fuel needed for one nuclear device in one month, enough fuel for a second weapon in three months, and a third in under five.

The 2015 nuclear deal sharply limited Iran's uranium stockpile and limited the enrichment to 3.7 percent purity, a sufficient level for nuclear power plant fuel. However, a year after President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal, Iran pushed production to 20 percent, and then to 60 percent after, according to the New York Times its main nuclear site was sabotaged on April this year – almost certainly by Israel. Experts say Iran can, if it decides, push that up to 90 percent and produce enough material for a bomb within a month.

Iran agreed Sunday to allow international inspectors to install new memory cards into surveillance cameras at its sensitive nuclear sites and to continue filming there, potentially averting a diplomatic showdown this week. 

Last week, the UN atomic watchdog said that Iran's stockpiling of highly enriched uranium that could be used to make nuclear weapons is in contravention of the 2015 accord with world powers that was meant to contain Tehran's nuclear program.

The International Atomic Energy Agency also chided Iran for its continued failure to answer questions including on uranium traces found at undeclared sites.

The U.S. unilaterally pulled out of the nuclear deal in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump, but Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia have tried to preserve the accord.

Tehran's strategy of deliberately violating the deal is seen as an attempt to put pressure particularly on Europe to provide it with incentives to offset crippling American sanctions re-imposed after the U.S. pullout.

President Joe Biden has said he is open to rejoining the pact. The last round of talks in Vienna ended in June without a clear result.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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