Iran's Deputy Atomic Energy Organization Director Ali Asghar Zarean made a key, provocative announcement on Saturday, saying the Islamic Republic has now passed the low uranium enrichment threshold for a nuke.
“At the moment, if (Iranian authorities) make the decision, the Atomic Energy Organization, as the executor, will be able to enrich uranium at any percentage,” Ali Asghar Zarean said, according to Reuters.
Specifically, he declared the agency had surpassed 1,200 kg of low-level enriched uranium, following early last month Iran's leaders declaring they consider the program under "no limitations" following the Qassem Soleimani assassination.
The Saturday announcement also comes nearly two weeks after European signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal - Germany, France and Britain - said they are moving to trigger the JCPOA's dispute resolution mechanism formally declaring Tehran is in breach, which could bring UN sanctions.
A report in The Jerusalem Post underscores how dire the situation is after this latest threshold has been reached:
If true, the news could substantially accelerate the point at which Israel and the US might need to decide if they will intervene militarily before Iran develops a nuclear weapon.
However, none of this necessarily means Iran has moved to take the final step of weaponizing and delivering the material. Leadership in Tehran has continually emphasized its nuclear program is for peaceful energy purposes.
The 1,200kg would still have to be enriched to 90 percent weaponized uranium for a weapon. Combined with the challenges of a delivery method, Israeli defense officials say it could take up to a year to develop a nuke if the Iranians were to move on it now, according to The Jerusalem Post.
To compare to pre-2015 nuclear deal levels, Iran had much more uranium yet never enriched it past the 20 percent level. It remains to be seen whether Iran's newest announcement is a possible bluff, or an attempt at sowing disinformation to intimidate Washington — still a distinct possibility which awaits IAEA or other international scientific confirmation.
More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:
- Oil Diversification Is Already Bearing Fruit For Gulf Economies
- China To Ramp Up Shale Gas Production At Home
- Oil Prices Head Lower Despite Small Crude Draw
Instead of moving to trigger the JCPOA's dispute resolution mechanism formally declaring Tehran is in breach, which could bring UN sanctions, Germany, France and Britain could have obviated Iran’s action had they continued to trade with Iran having announced that they don’t accept US sanctions against Iran. After all, it was the United States and not Iran who walked away from the nuclear deal which has been approved by the US Security Council.
Israel has no right to condemn Iran’s nuclear programme and try to drag the United States into a war with it when it is itself armed to the teeth with nuclear warheads. Before it demands that Iran relinquish its nuclear programme, it should itself relinquish its weapons.
Iran will never ever relinquish its nuclear programme. Despite Iran’s adamant denials that it does not seek to acquire nuclear weapons, the country is actually heading that way. Iran’s logic is that if Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea can defy the world and get away with it, why not Iran.
Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
International Oil Economist
Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London
Prof. Salameh does not seem to understand how trade works in democratic capitalist countries such as those in Europe. With all due respect to Iran's importance as a market, not many, if any, significant European companies would jeopardize the American market by accepting the implorations and pleas of European & EU leaders to continue to do business as usual with Iranian clients and partners - even when 'business as usual' was facilitated by a hastily built EU mechanism to subvert the USA sanctions. Whereas Iran's economy is dominated by state companies that can be coerced into doing what the Iranian leadership dictates to them, this is not the case for European companies.