Four times a year, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) issues a report on the state of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program—or at least, on those nuclear activities it hasn’t managed to conceal. Simon Henderson comments on the latest report:
Two issues stand out given the concerns they raise about potential nuclear-weapons development: increased uranium enrichment and purification of plutonium from spent fuel. On the former, the report reveals that Iran’s overall stockpile of enriched uranium is now 2,442.9 kilograms, almost twelve times the amount agreed to under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [or JCPOA, as the 2015 nuclear agreement is known]. Worse, most of this stockpile has been enriched to 4.5 percent—a significant step up from unenriched uranium along the path to possible weapons-grade material, and above the JCPOA limit of 3.67 percent.
The report is littered with other concerns as well, [the extent of which] belies the almost anodyne manner in which the agency presents them.
In sum, the report is very worrisome, especially because it came out two weeks after Iran revealed video of an elaborate tunnel network for missiles that are probably capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. Such missiles are not covered by the JCPOA, nor are Iran’s numerous regional military involvements.
President-elect Joe Biden’s team has indicated that he wants to return to the JCPOA and its numerous restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities once he takes office, but . . . Tehran’s program is moving ahead anyway. Even if the next administration does manage to reinstitute the JCPOA in some form, it will likely be a rather different accord.