Iran is threatening to restart its controversial nuclear enrichment program, as the head of the Islamic Republic’s Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI) revealed on Sunday that they have maintained the ability to quickly restart the full-scale enrichment of uranium “within 4 days,” reports FARS news.
“If senior Islamic Republic officials issue an order to resume the 20 percent enrichment, we can do it in Fordo within 4 days,” said Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the AEOI – referring to the Fordo nuclear facility in northern Iran. Of note – 20 percent enrichment is considered above the required level for nuclear energy production, however it is still well below the 80-90 percent required for a nuclear weapon.
Salehi said his statement should be seen as a warning not to discard the nuclear deal – and revealed that Iran had made “more extensive progress in other parts of its nuclear activities” which “go beyond the previous levels” according to FARS.
Meanwhile, in a Monday speech at the “National Atomic Energy Day,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani declared that Iran’s nuclear industry is moving along “faster than before.”
“I want to clearly say to the Iranian nation that our nuclear industry is moving faster than before with more energy, accuracy and more exact calculation,” the Iranian leader said, speaking from Tehran. Rouhani was quoted as saying Iran needs “both hard and soft power,” while pursuing “constructive engagement” with the rest of the world.
Under the 2015 agreement spearheaded by the Obama administration, Iran promised to significantly scale back its nuclear enrichment programs and give up pursuit of nuclear weapons – however it is still allowed to develop civilian nuclear technology, including energy production and scientific research.
Mark Dubowitz, a nuclear expert who has advised the White House and Congress on the Iran issue, told the Free Beacon that Iran’s latest enrichment threats expose critical flaws in the Iran deal that the Trump administration is seeking to address.
Iran’s “threats confirm that the Iranian regime never gave up on its atomic weapon ambitions,” said Dubowitz, CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington-based think-tank.
The nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, “merely hit the pause button temporarily on those aspects of Iran’s nuclear program that it had already perfected — and, as [Salehi’s] threats underscore, could be easily restarted—while leaving Tehran with the time and space to develop technologies that it hadn’t perfected such as advanced centrifuges and missiles,” Dubowitz said. “His threats reveal what many deal skeptics have long argued: unless the JCPOA is fixed, Iran has pathways to dozens of nuclear-tipped missiles capable of striking U.S. forces, U.S. allies, and eventually the U.S. homeland.”
Trump administration insiders who spoke to the Free Beacon about the matter warned that Iran’s threats can be backed up with action should the Islamic Republic decide to abandon the deal and buck Trump. –Free Beacon
“This is exactly what President Trump means when he says the Iran deal is the worst agreement ever negotiated,” said one Republican foreign policy adviser to the Free Republic.
Full article: Iran Threatens To Restart Nuclear Enrichment Program (OilPrice)