The Biden administration expects Iran to be able to amass enough material to produce a nuclear weapon in less than a year – even if the 2015 deal between Washington, Tehran and five other nations is revived, according to a new report.
White House officials concluded late last year that Iran’s nuclear program was too advanced to reduce the so-called ‘getaway period’ to the 12 months specified in the administration’s original negotiated deal. Obama, the the wall street journal reported Thursday.
The term “breakout period” refers to the length of time Iran would need to develop enough highly enriched uranium to build a nuclear bomb.
Despite the shortened window, the Biden administration is continuing talks to join the deal on the premise that a new deal must be reached to give the United States and other nations time to respond to an Iranian nuclear buildup, according to The report.
The Journal added that the new length of the breakout period depends on what actions Iran takes with its current stockpile of enriched uranium and nuclear material production equipment.
A State Department spokesperson declined to comment to the newspaper on the assessments of the escapes and said the administration was confident a deal “would address our pressing nonproliferation concerns.”
“As we said, we only have a few weeks to reach an agreement, after which the pace of Iran’s nuclear advances will make it impossible to return to the JCPOA,” the spokesperson said, using the acronym of the official name of the agreement: the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan.
Iran began accelerating its nuclear program after former President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the deal in 2018, with Tehran claiming Washington had violated key principles of the accord.
the international atomic energy agency reported in September that Iran was enriching uranium to levels above those permitted by the deal and warned that Tehran could produce enough material to make a bomb within two months.
Some former US officials believe any breakout period of less than six months would significantly hamper America’s ability to respond to Iran’s nuclear buildup, according to the Journal.
But precisely how long Iran needs to gather the material for a nuclear bomb depends on Tehran’s ability to operate centrifuges, the speed of that equipment, and the skills to enrich uranium to levels military grade, according to the report.
Since mid-2019, Iran has expanded the construction, installation and operation of centrifuges, producing enriched uranium at a faster rate than the older machines allowed under the 2015 deal.
It has since installed hundreds of these machines at nuclear facilities across the country, according to the report.
“There’s nothing a restored JCPOA won’t do to compensate for this increased knowledge and experience” that Iran has gained, said Robert Einhorn, a former senior State Department arms control official.