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Iran Could Soon Have Nuclear Fuel to Create Atom Bombs, State Department Warns

Jonathan Walker
Jonathan loves talking politics, economics and philosophy. He carries unique perspectives on everything making him a rather odd mix of liberal-conservative with a streak of independent Austrian thought.
Published: February 3, 2022
Iranian President-Elect Ebrahim Raisi holds a press conference at Shahid Beheshti conference hall on June 21, 2021 in Tehran, Iran.
Iranian President-Elect Ebrahim Raisi holds a press conference at Shahid Beheshti conference hall on June 21, 2021 in Tehran, Iran. (Image: Majid Saeedi/Getty Images)

In a Jan. 31 special briefing, the U.S. State Department warned that the Iranian regime is weeks away from procuring the necessary nuclear power needed to build atomic bombs. 

Negotiations for a revamped nuclear deal will conclude over the next few weeks even if both nations fail to arrive at an agreement. The State Department’s update came after Washington engaged in a new round of talks with Iran and other global powers in Vienna.

A senior state department official said that the Biden administration’s assessment sees Iran’s nuclear program becoming so advanced in the coming weeks that there will be no significant security benefit for the United States to reenter the 2015 nuclear accord with Tehran. 

Former President Donald Trump removed America from the deal and applied sanctions to restrict the nation’s nuclear capabilities. But Iran has continued to enrich uranium to high levels of purity. Tehran has sped up the installation of advanced nuclear centrifuges as well as expelled international nuclear inspectors from the country.

“We are in the final stretch because, as we’ve said now for some time, this can’t go on forever because of Iran’s nuclear advances. This is not a prediction. It’s not a threat. It’s not an artificial deadline. It’s just a requirement that we’ve conveyed indirectly to Iran and to all our P5+1 partners for some time, which is that given the pace of Iran’s advances, its nuclear advances, we only have a handful of weeks left to get a deal, after which point it will unfortunately be no longer possible to return to the JCPOA and to recapture the nonproliferation benefits that the deal provided for us,” the official stated.

Tortured negotiations

The State Department official said that the administration has been negotiating with Iran for 10 months. In the most recent negotiations in Vienna, which were “among the most intensive,” the parties narrowed down their differences to “key priorities.” Now is the time for Iran to decide whether it wants to make decisions necessary for a “mutual return” to the 2015 nuclear deal, the official said.

If Iran chooses to take the deal, all sanctions imposed under the Trump administration will be removed. This will give the Iranian regime access to billions of dollars in funds. If Iran refuses the deal, Washington will apply more economic and diplomatic pressure on the Islamic nation. The Biden administration hopes the latter does not take place, according to the official. At the moment, Tehran has refused to negotiate with Washington directly and uses countries like Russia as an intermediary for negotiations. 

Mark Dubowitz is the chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington think tank. He warned against signing a deal with Tehran. 

“Any nuclear deal will allow Iran to take patient pathways to nuclear weapons as key restrictions expire and tens of billions of dollars flow into the coffers of the regime to finance its destructive activities… When power shifts in Washington, Republicans again will reimpose all the sanctions and take America out of what they see as a fatally flawed agreement,” Dubowitz told NYT

Joe Biden is facing tough questions from his own party members over the Iran nuclear deal. Democrat Senator Robert Menendez has indicated that he has no confidence in Washington’s attempt to get Iran back into the nuclear deal.

While speaking at the Senate floor on Feb. 2, Menendez said that he has yet to hear arguments as to whether the deal is even a “feasible prospect.” He pointed out that the current Iranian government has “abandoned all previous understandings” and has made it “absolutely clear” that the Islamic nation’s regional proxy networks and ballistic missiles are not negotiable. “At this point, we seriously have to ask what exactly are we trying to salvage?” he said.