By Jonathan Davis
The Israeli military said this week it believes Iran will be able to produce enough enriched uranium for at least one nuclear device by year’s end, but added that Tehran probably won’t have a missile ready yet to carry it.
According to a report in Ha’aretz, Israeli intelligence believes the Iranians could have a missile ready to carry a nuclear warhead within two years, however.
Some Western officials in Europe and Iran believe President Trump’s decision to leave the nuclear accord signed by his predecessor is responsible for Iran’s decision to ramp up enrichment.
The United States’ exit from the nuclear agreement signed in 2015 brings intelligence officials to estimate that Iran’s nuclear program is running again after years of not violating the agreement. Israel’s security establishment has assessed that by the end of 2020, Iran will have the required amount of enriched uranium to produce one nuclear bomb.
On June 17, Iran said that it would surpass the deal’s 300-kilogram limit on low-enriched uranium, and quadrupled its production. It also threatened to raise enrichment closer to weapons-grade levels on July 7 if the three European countries that still support the 2015 agreement didn’t offer a new deal.
Under the 2015 agreement, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iran agreed to limit its enrichment of uranium and submit to UN inspections in exchange for lifting economic sanctions. But U.S. President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the accord in May 2018, and has imposed increasingly tough U.S. sanctions to pressure Iran to negotiate a better deal, and the United States has threatened sanctions against countries that trade with Iran.
In fact, there have been a number of reports claiming the Iranians were cheating on the agreement anyway — which is a primary reason why Trump decided to leave it.
As Ha’aretz reported in April 2018:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed on Monday a cache of documents he says proves Iran lied to the world about its nuclear program for years, even after the 2015 nuclear deal with the world. “Iran did not come clean about its nuclear program,” Netanyahu said in a prime time address in English.
Presenting 55,000 pages of documents and 183 CDs, Netanyahu said Iran hid an “atomic archive” of documents on its nuclear program.
“This is an original Iranian presentation from these files,” Netanyahu said, stressing that “the mission statement is to design, produce and test five warheads with 10 kiloton of TNT yield for integration on missiles.”
The Iranians’ long-stated objective has been to build a nuclear weapons capability, not simply to threaten Israel with but also to ensure the regime’s survivability, much the same logic behind North Korea’s program.