Iran Close to Nuclear Weapons Breakout

[ First published in The Gatestone Institute]

By Majid Rafizadeh

The Iranian regime is now comfortably violating all the restrictions of the nuclear deal it never signed, according to the latest report by the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The ruling mullahs have increased their total stockpile of low-enriched uranium from 1,020.9 kilograms (1.1 tons) to 1,571.6 kilograms (1.73 tons), as of May 20, 2020. This is approximately eight times more than what the regime was allowed to maintain under the misbegotten nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Tehran had been permitted to keep a stockpile of 202.8 kilograms (447 pounds) according to the terms of the JCPOA, and enrich uranium up to 3.67%. Iran is now enriching uranium up to the purity of 4.5% and possesses more heavy water than would have been permitted under the nuclear agreement.

Additionally, the mullahs still are not allowing the IAEA to inspect its sites, a long-term problem which, according to the recent report, has reportedly now raised “serious concerns” for the international inspectors.

In addition, despite the fact that Iran is a party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which it did sign, it has refused to allow the IAEA fully to inspect its sites, particularly to monitor Iran’s military sites, where nuclear activities are most likely being carried out.

Regrettably, one of the most dangerous concessions that the Obama administration gave to the Iranian government was surrendering to the Iranian leaders’ demand that military sites would be out of the IAEA’s reach. Because of this concession, at various high-profile sites such as the Parchin military complex southeast of Tehran, the regime has been free to engage in nuclear activities without the risk of inspection.

The IAEA’s recent report still does not give a full picture of Iran’s nuclear activities and is woefully underestimating the scope of the mullahs’ nuclear program. The Iranian authorities have even admitted that they have a higher enriched uranium level than that being reported by the IAEA. The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, declared that Iran has an adequate supply of 20% enriched uranium. “Right now we have enough 20% uranium,” he told the Iranian Students News Agency, ISNA, “but we can produce more as needed”. He added that the country is resuming uranium enrichment at a far higher level at the Fordow nuclear facility — an underground uranium enrichment facility which is reportedly located on one of bases of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC­­) — injecting uranium gas into centrifuges, and operating 60 IR-6 advanced centrifuges.

Importantly the IAEA has failed on several occasions accurately to detect Iran’s nuclear activities. For instance, in a November 2018 speech to the UN General Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu broke a story stating that Iran had a “secret atomic warehouse for storing massive amounts of equipment and material from Iran’s secret nuclear weapons program.” Although Iranian leaders insisted that the nuclear warehouse was a carpet cleaning facility, traces of radioactive uranium were detected at the site; Israel’s warning and other reports have proved accurate.

Israel’s 2018 seizure of documents, from a “nuclear archive” in Tehran answered some questions that the IAEA has failed to address for decades. According to the Institute for Science and International Security:

“How many nuclear weapons did Iran plan to make and how was it going to implement this decision? This question was not answerable in late 2015 and early 2016, based on the information in the hands of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), when the long-outstanding issues, including the Possible Military Dimensions (PMD), were addressed before the start of the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). But now, with Israel’s 2018 seizure of documents, computer files, and images from a ‘Nuclear Archive’ in Tehran, such questions can be far better addressed.”

The Institute for Science and International Security explained in its report that:

“Iran intended to build five nuclear warheads, each with an explosive yield of 10 kilotons and able to be delivered by ballistic missile… This report discusses another document available from the archive that provides an early look at how Iran planned to achieve its goal of designing and manufacturing five nuclear weapons and by about 2003…”

Are the US and the UN happy to keep sitting idly by while the ruling mullahs of Iran inch dangerously closer to a nuclear weapons breakout?

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a business strategist and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He has authored several books on Islam and US foreign policy. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu

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