As Talks Stall, Iran Moves Closer to Building Atomic Bombs

March 11 2022

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.

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Read more at Institute for Science and International Security

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Nuclear proliferation

Why the Leader of Hamas Went to Russia

Sept. 30 2022

Earlier this month, the Hamas chairman Ismail Haniyeh and several of his colleagues visited Moscow, where they met with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other Russian officials. According to Arabic-language media, Haniyeh came seeking “new ideas” about how to wage war against the Jewish state. The terrorist group has had good relations with the Kremlin for several years, and even maintains an office in Moscow. John Hardie and Ivana Stradner comment on the timing of the visit:

For Moscow, the visit likely reflects a continuation of its efforts to leverage the Palestinians and other issues to pressure Israel over its stance on Russia’s war in Ukraine. Russia and Israel built friendly relations in the decades following the Soviet Union’s dissolution. After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Jerusalem condemned the war, but made sure to tread carefully in order to preserve working ties with Moscow, lest Russian military forces in Syria disrupt Israel’s strategically important air operations there.

Nevertheless, bilateral tensions spiked in April after Yair Lapid, then serving as Israel’s foreign minister, joined the chorus of voices worldwide accusing Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine. Jerusalem later provided Kyiv with some non-lethal military aid and a field hospital. In response, Moscow hardened its rhetoric about Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories.

The Palestinian issue isn’t the only way that Russia has sought to pressure Israel. Moscow is also threatening, on seemingly spurious grounds, to shutter the Russian branch of the Jewish Agency.

Moscow likely has little appetite for outright conflict with Israel, particularly when the bulk of Russia’s military is floundering in Ukraine. But there are plenty of other ways that Russia, which maintains an active intelligence presence in the Jewish state, could damage Israel’s interests. As Moscow cozies up with Hamas, Iran, and other enemies of Israel, Jerusalem—and its American allies—would do well to keep a watchful eye.

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Read more at Algemeiner

More about: Hamas, Israeli Security, Russia