Iran Triples High-Grade Nuclear Fuel Production in ‘Reckless Behavior’

The US and allies are concerned about the latest Iran nuclear steps. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

Iran has increased its high-grade nuclear fuel program to levels not seen since June, according to the United Nations nuclear watchdog, as the Islamic Republic moves closer towards nuclear weapons potential in a Middle East already roiled with conflict. Iran’s efforts to enrich uranium up to 60% has “no credible civilian justification” and “adds to the unabated escalation of Iran’s nuclear program” according to a joint statement last week by the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Germany.

“These decisions demonstrate Iran’s lack of good will towards de-escalation and represent reckless behavior in a tense regional context,” warned the Western allies in a condemnation of the action. The statement said Iran’s move will “will result in Iran tripling its monthly production rate of uranium enriched up to 60%”.

Israel, already embroiled in a war with Iranian terror allies, made it clear on Saturday night that they haven’t lost track of the Iranian nuclear threat. “Everyone understands that the threat from Iran will greatly increase if Iran has nuclear weapons,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in comments translated from Hebrew and published by Israel. “Therefore, the goal that I have been working toward for many years, even now, remains as is: To do absolutely everything to prevent Iran from attaining nuclear weapons.”

Netanyahu said Israel is already “acting against Iran all the time, everywhere” but declined to share details. The comments come as Israel confronts Iranian allies across the region: Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Syrian regime, and the Houthi rebels in Yemen. And Israel is warning Iran as well.

In his statement, Netanyahu said that if Hezbollah expands the fight in Lebanon—something the Iranian proxy has the weapons to do—Israel would unleash on Hezbollah “blows that it has not dreamed of, and Iran as well.” Said Netanyahu, “Iran is leading the axis of evil and the aggression against us on the various fronts. This aggression is aimed not only at Israel but at the entire free world.”

Meanwhile, the US, Germany, UK, and France said in their December 28 statement they “remain committed to a diplomatic solution” to the nuclear crisis with Iran and “reaffirm our determination that Iran must never develop a nuclear weapon.”

The four Western nations are part of the so-called “P5+1” group that includes China and Russia and has been negotiating with Iran for years to rein in the nuclear program. Instead of reaching a renewed nuclear deal that would exchange sanctions relief for nuclear restraint, Iran has been escalating. As the Western allies noted, the latest moves “represent a backwards step by Iran.”

In addition to the expanded nuclear fuel refinement, the US and European nations said the December 26 report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) noted Iran has also made troubling adjustments to their nuclear enrichment infrastructure. This follows a decision by Iran to kick out IAEA inspectors earlier in 2023.

“We urge Iran to immediately reverse these steps and de-escalate its nuclear program,” said the Western allies’ joint statement. “Iran must fully cooperate with the IAEA to enable it to provide assurances that its nuclear program is exclusively peaceful, and to re-designate the inspectors suspended in September 2023.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, January 1, 2024)

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