Time is running out to stop Iran from producing enough nuclear fuel for a nuclear weapon, with the United States Secretary of State saying that Iran’s continued lifting of restrictions on their nuclear program could get them within weeks of that dangerous goal. Antony Blinken, in an interview on Monday with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell republished in a State Department press release, said that Iran had already gotten within months of having enough enriched uranium for a bomb.
“Based on public reports, the time that it would take Iran to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon is down to, we think, a few months,” Blinken said on the Andrea Mitchell Reports program. “…And it’s a problem that could get more acute, because if Iran continues to lift some of these restraints imposed by the [international nuclear] agreement, that could get down to a matter of weeks.”
Blinken was referring to repeated steps by Iran in recent months to withdraw from restrictions under the nuclear deal with the major world powers. That deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), exchanged sanctions relief and economic benefits to Iran for self-imposed limits on Iran’s nuclear program—including their ability to produce enriched uranium.
The JCPOA was thought to introduce enough roadblocks to push out Iran’s nuclear fuel timeline to more than a year’s time. However, flaws within the deal—such as sunset clauses that lift restrictions at arbitrary timeframes and the failure to address Iran’s missile program and support for terrorism—led former US President Donald Trump to pull America out of the deal and re-impose crippling sanctions on Iran.
With new US President Joe Biden in power, and following his role as Vice President under then President Barack Obama who helped craft the JCPOA, the expectation is that the US will rejoin the accord. However, Blinken said that they are waiting on Iran to first resume their obligations under the JCPOA, at which point the US would as well in the form of sanctions relief.
Blinken also noted that even with Iran’s progress towards having enough nuclear fuel for a bomb, the full process of building a nuclear warhead takes separate additional research and development. Blinken told Mitchell that’s a “timeline that’s probably different” from the mere months to achieving the bomb’s fuel.
“But the bottom line is they are getting closer to the point where they would be either a threshold nuclear power, or actually a nuclear power. And that is profoundly against our interests,” said Blinken.
It’s also strongly against Israel’s interests. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has lobbied the Biden Administration to not restart the failed JCPOA deal as is and has warned again and again about the dangers of a nuclear Iran.
In a series of posts on Netanyahu’s official Twitter feed as the world was set to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, he said “there are those who aspire to destroy the State of Israel and say so openly, on a daily basis, and this is the regime of the ayatollahs in Iran… they intend to try and destroy us—inter alia—by developing nuclear weapons.”
Netanyahu went on to state his country’s stance on Iran’s malignant plans. He tweeted, “When somebody says that they intend to destroy you—take it seriously and organize to prevent this destruction. This is what we are doing around the clock and this is the first and most important goal of the State of Israel.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, February 2, 2021)