As Talks Stall, Iran Moves Closer to Building Atomic Bombs

Last week, as negotiators in Vienna came close to concluding a new version of the 2015 nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) issued two reports on the state of the country’s nuclear program. The IAEA currently monitors Iran’s atomic research, and would be charged with verifying its adherence to any new agreement. David Albright, Sarah Burkhard, and Andrea Stricker examine these two reports, which show that Iranian scientists have been violating the terms of the nonproliferation treaty, signed in 1970:

In an important conclusion, the IAEA reports that Iran violated its safeguards agreement by possessing and processing uranium metal at Lavizan-Shian. . . . The lack of additional IAEA follow-up likely reflects the difficulty of dealing with Iranian non-cooperation and dissembling actions about its past—and possibly ongoing—nuclear-weapons program. More than likely, this issue or an equivalent one will come up again.

In any nuclear deal, sanctions should not be reduced unless Iran cooperates with the IAEA and fully addresses its concerns. In other words, if Iran continues its deception during the implementation period of a new nuclear deal, a practice it followed during the implementation period of the JCPOA, sanctions should not be reduced.

Moreover, the Islamic Republic is closer than ever to accumulating enough nuclear fuel to produce a bomb:

Due to the growth of Iran’s 20- and 60-percent-enriched uranium stocks, breakout timelines have become dangerously short, far shorter than just a few months ago. Iran now has enough 20- and 60-percent-enriched uranium to use as feed for production of enough weapon-grade uranium for two nuclear weapons.

In total, Iran has enough 60-, 20-, and 4.5-percent-enriched uranium to make sufficient weapons-grade uranium for four nuclear weapons. . . . Alternatively, 40 kg of 60 percent enriched uranium is more than enough to fashion a nuclear explosive directly, without any further enrichment. . . . Iran’s current production rate of 60-percent-enriched uranium is 4.5 kg per month, meaning that it could accumulate its first amount of 40 kg in less than two months from now.

Read more at Institute for Science and International Security

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Nuclear proliferation


Israel Just Sent Iran a Clear Message

Early Friday morning, Israel attacked military installations near the Iranian cities of Isfahan and nearby Natanz, the latter being one of the hubs of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem is not taking credit for the attack, and none of the details are too certain, but it seems that the attack involved multiple drones, likely launched from within Iran, as well as one or more missiles fired from Syrian or Iraqi airspace. Strikes on Syrian radar systems shortly beforehand probably helped make the attack possible, and there were reportedly strikes on Iraq as well.

Iran itself is downplaying the attack, but the S-300 air-defense batteries in Isfahan appear to have been destroyed or damaged. This is a sophisticated Russian-made system positioned to protect the Natanz nuclear installation. In other words, Israel has demonstrated that Iran’s best technology can’t protect the country’s skies from the IDF. As Yossi Kuperwasser puts it, the attack, combined with the response to the assault on April 13,

clarified to the Iranians that whereas we [Israelis] are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them.

Nobody knows exactly how the operation was carried out. . . . It is good that a question mark hovers over . . . what exactly Israel did. Let’s keep them wondering. It is good for deniability and good for keeping the enemy uncertain.

The fact that we chose targets that were in the vicinity of a major nuclear facility but were linked to the Iranian missile and air forces was a good message. It communicated that we can reach other targets as well but, as we don’t want escalation, we chose targets nearby that were involved in the attack against Israel. I think it sends the message that if we want to, we can send a stronger message. Israel is not seeking escalation at the moment.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Iran, Israeli Security