Israel Making Efforts to Convince US that New Nuclear Agreement Will Allow Iran Build Military Nuclear Capability

By ARIE EGOZI

Foreign Affairs

Tel Aviv: In a bid to gain more advantages in a new nuclear agreement, the Iranian campaign continues to tell the world – “you better sign the agreement” because the alternative will be bad for you. Israel is making big efforts to convince Washington that a new agreement will allow Iran to keep building a military nuclear capability.

Iran’s former nuclear chief who is a member of parliament is quoted by the Iran International website operated from London as saying that the Islamic Republic should produce plutonium in addition to enriching uranium to 90 percent.

Fereydoun Abbasi, a member of parliament’s energy committee, said September 3 that Iran should enrich uranium not just to 60 percent – the highest level reached at present – but to 90 percent and more. Uranium enriched to 90 percent is only used for producing nuclear bombs.

But what appeared to be a direct threat amid nuclear talks with the West was Abbasi’s statement that Iran should also produce plutonium.

“Western countries must be afraid of plutonium in Iran. We want plutonium for energy production, not weapons, and it must be available in the country,” he said, adding that “we must keep the enriched materials.” Abbasi went on to say that Iran must do these things publicly and under the supervision of the agency.

Production of plutonium by Iran was banned outright under the JCPOA in 2015. According to the accord, a plutonium heavy water reactor that Tehran was building in Arak was dismantled and its core filled with concrete. Plutonium produced from uranium reactor spent fuel is the easiest path to making nuclear bombs.

Abbasi had earlier said that the highly enriched uranium fissile material should be used “both for scientific research and for making nuclear fuel for submarines.”

On September 1, another lawmaker and a commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, Mohammad Esmail Kowsari said, “We can turn the 60% enrichment rate into 93%, which means an atomic bomb, and although we are not looking for this, we have the ability to do it if the other side is slow to move,” to revive the landmark nuclear accord.

According to the Iran International website, Iran began in 2019 enriching uranium beyond the 3.67 percent cap set by the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), the year after the US left the 2015 deal and imposed ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions. There are no civilian uses for 90-percent-enriched uranium including research and medical isotopes which would need up to 20-percent enriched uranium. Iran also has no nuclear submarines and 90 percent is widely considered weapons grade fissile material.

The website says that in its nuclear brinksmanship since early 2021, Iran has also severely restricted monitoring by the IAEA by first denying real-time access and then disconnecting cameras and special equipment. In this period, it is believed Tehran has accumulated enough enriched uranium to easily take a leap to 90-percent enriched fissile material enough for one or two nuclear bombs.