After the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that Iran had 84.3 kg of 20% enriched uranium last month, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Mohammad Eslami, announced that they already possessed more than 120 kg.
This amount is equivalent to 77% of the 155 kg needed to arm a nuclear bomb, according to calculations by the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA), according to the Jerusalem Post of Oct. 10.
If Iran were to advance in uranium production of these specifications at the same rate as last month, it would soon obtain the missing 35 kilograms, thus becoming part of the club of the few countries that possess an atomic arsenal.
JINSA stated, “Iran’s claim, in June, to have produced 108 kg. at an average rate of 40 kg./month over the preceding three weeks was provocatively overstated.”
It added: “To limit its stockpile, Iran has been converting some of it to uranium metal, which, while worrisome because this process is one of the steps to a nuclear weapon, means this material can no longer be used to enrich fissile material.”
In September, the IAEA complained to Iran for blocking its access to and disabling some of its nuclear monitoring equipment. Iran responded that such interference was due to its nuclear facilities located in Karaj being attacked and damaged by the Mossad, one of Israel’s intelligence agencies.
Iran’s progress has been gigantic following the deactivation of international agreements prohibiting it from enriching uranium beyond 3.67%, except for its research reactor activities.
While the international community tries to dissuade it from enriching uranium above the permitted levels, its authorities seem to evade direct and clear answers.
In this regard, the Biden administration is seeking to resume a nuclear deal with Iran. Iran’s first condition is that $10 billion of frozen funds from Tehran, the capital, be released to it.
“The Americans tried to contact us through different channels (at the U.N. General Assembly) in New York, and I told the mediators if America’s intentions are serious then a serious indication was needed … by releasing at least $10 billion of blocked money,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said on state television.
On the other hand, for a senior diplomat, Iran’s strategy is to buy time: “Iran is certainly playing for time and will in the meantime continue to enhance its nuclear program to gain political leverage,” he told Politico on condition of anonymity.
The diplomat also warned that Iran could venture to make more ambitious demands of the United States.
Picking up on the recent sequence of diplomatic spats, such as the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan or the disagreement with France over the cancellation of a submarine contract, they could view the U.S. as “weak.”
“Iran most probably will only come back to the table in Vienna if the west makes a gesture of goodwill or provides certain concessions to Iran,” the diplomat said.