U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has warned that the Iranian regime could be a “matter of weeks” away from having sufficient material to manufacture nuclear weapons. In an interview with NBC News, he reaffirmed the Biden administration’s stance that the US should comply with the 2015 nuclear deal it negotiated with Iran.
Former President Donald Trump had pulled America out of the deal in 2018, calling it a one-sided agreement that should have “never, ever been made.” The 2015 deal, negotiated by the Obama administration, emboldened a regime that Trump believes is sponsoring terrorism and exporting dangerous weapons across the Middle East. Iran also supports militant organizations like the Taliban, Hamas, and Al-Qaeda.
When Blinken was asked whether the new deal will stipulate detained Americans’ release, he said that U.S. citizens have to be released irrespective of any deal. He promised that Washington would do all it can to bring these people back home. The Secretary of State also said that if Iran continues to violate its restraints on the nuclear deal, the U.S. might push for a stronger agreement.
Iran recently stated that any renegotiation of the deal is out of the question
“The nuclear accord is a multilateral international agreement ratified by UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which is non-negotiable and parties to it are clear and unchangeable,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a statement.
Blinken’s warning comes as Iranian media reported that the country is close to producing 20 percent enriched uranium, the last level before moving toward weapons-grade material. Iranian officials were expecting to produce 120 kilos of enriched uranium annually. However, the current production is said to have exceeded those expectations by 70 percent. Behrooz Kamalvandi, a spokesperson for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), announced that Tehran had accumulated 17 kilos of enriched uranium.
According to the 2015 agreement, Iran is banned from enriching uranium at the Fordow nuclear facility for a period of 15 years. However, the nation has clearly breached such clauses as the Fordow facility is currently upgrading 4.1 percent uranium to 20 percent uranium. From that point, the uranium can easily be enriched to 90 percent, the level needed to produce nuclear bombs. Blinken has indicated that the U.S. will only rejoin the deal if Iran fully complies with the agreement and limits uranium enrichment to less than 4 percent purity.
Israel’s military chief Aviv Kohavi has warned Joe Biden against rejoining the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran even on modified terms. A military strike against Iran is already being planned.
“I instructed the army to prepare a number of operational plans in addition to the existing ones… We are taking care of these plans and will develop them during the coming year. Those who decide on carrying them out, of course, are the political leaders. But these plans have to be on the table,” Kohavi said in a statement.
Kohavi noted that rejoining the deal will only lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East as nations like Saudi Arabia will seek to procure such weapons for themselves. They’ll want them as deterrence against enemies and to maintain the balance of power. He wants the current pressure on Iran to continue “no matter what happens,” as releasing the pressure will allow the regime to continue violating the nuclear agreement. Yossi Cohen, head of Israel’s Mossad spy agency, will reportedly be making a trip to the U.S. to present his country’s demands for a nuclear deal with Iran.