A report released on Monday by the Institute for Science and International Security concluded that Iran may be able to amass enough weapons-grade uranium within one month. The conclusion was based on data contained in a recent report from the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) tasked with overseeing Iran’s compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The report concluded that Iran could have enough enriched uranium for two weapons after three months and enough for an additional nuclear device two months later.
The IDF stated last month that after obtaining the fissionable material required for a nuclear weapon, it would take Iran several months to a year to make the device. The final element would be a delivery system. Iran has actively engaged in missile research in direct contravention of Security Council Resolution 2231 signed with the UN in conjunction with the JCPOA.
There have consistently been difficulties in verifying Iranian compliance with the JCPOA and IAEA inspections. On Sunday, Iran agreed to allow UN nuclear inspectors to install new memory cards into its cameras monitoring known nuclear sites. The existing cards showing activity at Iran’s main nuclear sites will be kept in Iran under what is described as a “joint seal”. The footage will be handed over to the IAEA if and when there is an agreement between Iran and world powers on the revival of the 2015 nuclear pact that includes the removal of US economic sanctions against Iran. Some of the video equipment may have been destroyed though Iran has not offered an explanation. The recent negotiations between the IAEA and Iran came after the Iranian government had withdrawn from the agreement covering the UN inspections in February.
The JCPOA was signed in 2015 between Iran and the P5+1: the five permanent members of the UN Security Council which are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and, in addition, Germany. The European Union also took part. The deal was focused on limiting Iran’s nuclear program to the point where it would take at least one year to develop a nuclear weapon. As per the agreement, many of these restrictions would be lifted ten years after its signing.
The deal resulted in the lifting of economic sanctions which revived Iran’s agenda of aggressive regional expansionism.
While the other six countries remained committed to the JCPOA, President Trump withdrew the United States from the deal in 2018, claiming it failed to curtail Iran’s missile program and regional influence. Iran began ignoring limitations on its nuclear program a year later. The recent report comes during efforts to restore the JCPOA which President Trump withdrew from in 2018, claiming it failed to curtail Iran’s offensive intercontinental missile program and regional influence. Iran began ignoring limitations on its nuclear program a year later.
Biden wants to return but may not happen
President Biden promised to return to the Iran deal and his administration is currently in negotiations with the Islamic republic. His negotiating team is currently engaged in the sixth round of talks in Vienna focused on returning the US to the deal.
On Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that the prospects of returning to the JCPOA seem bleak.
“I’m not going to put a date on it but we are getting closer to the point at which a strict return to compliance with the JCPOA does not reproduce the benefits that that agreement achieved,” Blinken told reporters in Germany.
On Wednesday, Iran’s envoy to the UN told the Security Council that an essential condition for returning to the JCPOA is a commitment by the US that it will never again unilaterally pull out of the agreement.