Iran’s Enriched Uranium Stockpile Rising, Getting Dangerously Close to Gaining Nuclear Weapons

By Arie Egozi

Foreign Affairs

Tel Aviv: The west is deaf and blind and Iran is using this fact to acquire military nuclear capability, a senior Israeli defence source said on May 28.

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According to a report in Iran International, the website operated from London by the opposition to the regime in Tehran, the UN’s nuclear watchdog warned on Monday, May 27 that Iran is continuing to enrich uranium to near weapons-grade levels.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said that Iran’s estimated stockpile of enriched uranium had reached more than 30 times the limit set out in the 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers.

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The website claims that according to a confidential IAEA report, which Iran International has read and reviewed, as of May 11, Iran has 142.1 kilograms of uranium enriched up to 60 percent which is an increase of 20.6 kilograms since that last report by the UN watchdog in February.

“It’s a pretty grim picture of Iran’s advancing nuclear program,” said Andrea Stricker, the Deputy Director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD)’s Non-proliferation and Biodefense program.

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Stricker told Iran International that Iran is getting dangerously close to gaining nuclear weapons and time is of the essence.

“Now they [Iran] have enough, at the 60% level, to make almost four nuclear weapons. And that material can be used directly in a nuclear device, if a country chose, and then there’s enough for probably more than 13 weapons overall, and they can fabricate that into weapons grade uranium within around five months.”

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“Then it would take additional time, at least six months for them to be able to fabricate that fuel into a crude nuclear device. And then even longer, perhaps more than a year, to be able to put it on a ballistic missile,” said Stricker.

“Basically, once you get to 20%, you have done most of the work on a technical level, and then it’s only a matter of days, for example, to transfer 60% enriched uranium to weapons grade. And that’s what we’re looking at, a very short breakout time, perhaps less than seven days to make the weapons grade uranium for one bomb,” she added.

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According to the report in Iran International, in mid-May, Kamal Kharrazi, a senior advisor to Iran’s ruler Ali Khamenei, said that Iran would be left with no option than to change its nuclear doctrine if Israel threatened its nuclear facilities amid heightened tensions.

The US State department deputy spokesperson said in response, when asked about Kharrazi’s comments during a press briefing, that the US would not allow Iran to build a nuclear bomb.