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Is Iran Closing in on Nuclear Weapons?

UN nuclear watchdog agency sounds the alarm.

There are reasons for concern regarding Iran’s desire for nuclear weapons – a priority for Tehran. Iran is working hard to develop nuclear weapons, and the flawed 2015 nuclear agreement by the Obama administration did not deter Iran from its path – nor could it have. Iran is a destabilizing influence in the Middle East. These are crucial considerations when determining courses of action to limit the number-one sponsor of terrorism.

It’s no secret that the Biden administration is keen on resurrecting the faulty Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in some form. However, more pressing national security issues like the crisis in Ukraine, China’s aggressiveness in the Indo-Pacific, and Israel’s war on the Iran-backed terrorist organization Hamas have risen to prominence. All the while, however, Tehran marched steadily toward the atomic age.

Nuclear Watchdog Agency Concerned About Iran

The topic of Iran’s nuclear ambitions gained some momentum recently with the release a report on Iran’s compliance with the tenets of the JCPOA from the UN’s nuclear watchdog agency, the International Atomic energy Agency (IAEA). Despite the US having pulled out of the inadequate nuclear agreement, some semblance of the regulatory oversight on Iran’s development of the necessary mechanical and nuclear-fuel-related processes has continued. The level of oversight, however, has been significantly reduced. “From 8 May 2019 onwards, however, Iran stopped implementing its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA on a step-by-step basis until, on 23 February 2021, it stopped implementing them altogether,” the report states. However, the IAEA analysis also states regarding the paucity of information it has, “Since 16 February 2021, the Agency has not been able to verify Iran’s total enriched uranium stockpile precisely on any given day, needing to rely instead on a small proportion of the total being based on Iran’s estimates.”

As it has been in previous IAEA reports on Iran’s nuclear program, the concern is the increase in speed and quantity of enriched, weapons-grade nuclear material Iran is producing. The IAEA inspection team found that the number of enrichment processing systems had not changed since the last report. Nonetheless, the amount of new equipment that has been installed at the Fordow enrichment plant would allow Iran to produce larger amounts of enriched nuclear fuel. Currently, there is no evidence of weapons-grade or highly enriched Uranium (HEU) nuclear material stockpiled according to the IAEA assessment.

In its article Uranium Enrichment published on its web page, the World Nuclear Association explained: “Uranium found in nature consists largely of two isotopes, U-235 and U-238. The production of energy in nuclear reactors is from the ‘fission’ or splitting of the U-235 atoms, a process which releases energy in the form of heat. U-235 is the main fissile isotope of Uranium.” It is U-235 that is used to make atomic weapons. The percentage of U-235 in HEU producing a weapon is 90%. The IAEA concluded that the highest rate of U-235 nuclear material Iran has produced is 60% in research and development plants.

A prominent Washington, DC, news source picked up on the latest IAEA report, concluding that the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant (FFEP) was of particular concern since the activity at the plant had increased significantly in recent years. The Fordow plant is Iran’s second pilot enrichment facility located just north of Qom and 87 miles south of Tehran.

The article makes the point that before former President Trump pulled out of the JCPOA, little or no effort at enriching Uranium was taking place at the Fordow facility. However, since the plant was kept secret and predominantly located in tunnels deep in a mountain, there is no evidence to support that assertion. As the Nuclear Threat Initiative explained on its web page, “The size of the FFEP, its secrecy, and its location on an IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) base led analysts in the US government to question the facility’s true purpose, arguing that Iran intended it for the covert production of weapons-grade highly enriched Uranium.”

Biden Administration Lifted Sanctions on Tehran

What is more apparent is that since the Biden administration lessened the impact or removed economic sanctions on Iran altogether, the Middle East menace has increased its nuclear program at a rapid pace. Within a month of taking office, “The Biden administration on Thursday [February 18, 2021] rescinded former president Donald Trump’s restoration of UN sanctions on Iran,” the Associated Press reported. That move was without any nuclear agreement to which the US was a party gave Iran access to revenue with nothing in return.

Iran with operational nuclear weapons is a situation the free world cannot allow. Liberty Nation reported over a year ago: “Iran has the nuclear material to produce ‘several’ nuclear bombs or missile warheads, new information from the international organization confirms.” The most recent IAEA assessment is a look at the Iranian nuclear program through a foggy lens at best, relying on Iran’s own assessments of its nuclear program.

The views expressed are those of the author and not of any other affiliate.

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