Iran could have enough weapons-grade uranium for an atomic bomb within a month – after the country abandoned every limitation under the 2015 global nuclear accord and has been enriching the chemical element, a new report says.
The Institute for Science and International Security, a US-based think tank, said in a report published Monday that the Islamic Republic could produce enough of the uranium for one nuke in as little as a month in a “worst-case” scenario, according to the Times of Israel.
Iran, which already has 200 grams of the enriched uranium in its stockpile, could produce enough of it for a second weapon in three months and for a third in five months, according to the experts, led by former UN nuclear inspector David Albright.
The report did not include the time it would take Tehran to actually assemble a deliverable bomb — one that could be installed on a ballistic missile warhead, the Israeli paper noted.
Last month, the Israel Defense Forces estimated that the process would take several months and possibly up to a year, the outlet reported.
The institute’s experts examined a recent report by the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, about Iran’s compliance with the 2015 nuclear accord, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, between the Islamic Republic, US, European Union and several other large nations.
“Overall, the IAEA’s latest report shows Iran’s rapidly advancing nuclear activities and steps to limit IAEA monitoring, while inspectors have a diminishing ability to detect Iranian diversion of assets to undeclared facilities,” the think-tank report said. “The IAEA is sounding an alarm to the international community accordingly.”
Unnamed US officials who have seen classified estimates are prevented from addressing official assessments — but have acknowledged to The New York Times that they believed it would take Iran only a few months to develop enough fuel for a bomb.
Last month, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned that Iran was “only two months away from acquiring the materials necessary for a nuclear weapon,” according to the Times of Israel.
Gantz, a former IDF chief of staff, called for the international community to develop a “Plan B,” including sanctions and the threat of force, should currently stalled nuclear talks fail, the outlet reported.
Since then-President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the 2015 nuclear deal in 2018, Iran has been enriching a small amount of uranium up to 63 percent — a short step from weapons-grade levels — compared with 3.67 percent under the deal.
It also has spun far more advanced centrifuges and more of them than were allowed under the accord, worrying nuclear nonproliferation experts, even though Iran insists its program is peaceful.
Indirect talks between the Biden administration and Tehran in the hopes of salvaging the deal have stalled, and the US continues to maintain crippling sanctions on the country.
White House officials have recently acknowledged that Iran’s potential “breakout” — the time needed to amass enough fissile material for a single nuclear weapon — was down to a matter of months or less.
Albright said Iran may be trying to improve its prospects at the negotiating table under new President Ebrahim Raisi in an effort to secure more favorable terms in discussions to restore the 2015 accord.
“We have to be careful not to let them scare us,” Albright told reporters Friday, according to The Times.
The report by the Institute for Science and International Security was published a day after Iran agreed to allow international inspectors to install new memory cards into surveillance cameras at its sensitive nuclear sites and to continue filming there.
But the announcement still leaves the IAEA in the same position it has faced since February.
Tehran holds all recordings at its sites as negotiations over the nuclear deal remain stalled in Vienna.
On Monday, the US, Britain, France and Germany agreed not to push for a resolution at this week’s meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s 35-nation Board of Governors to criticize Iran after it agreed to prolong monitoring of some nuclear activities, Reuters reported.
With Post Wires