|European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton (L) meets with Iran’s Chief Negotiator Saeed Jalili in Moscow, June 18, 2012. — Reuters Photo|
Director, Critical Threats Project
The threat of Iran's illicit nuclear program is mounting as another round of meetings between the P5+1 and Iran ended in failure this week. Tehran’s continued intransigence suggests that the regime will not compromise on its pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability, despite the impact of recent economic sanctions.
Iran's ongoing enrichment activities at the Natanz and Fordow facilities are increasing its enriched uranium stockpile, which is now large enough to produce fuel for five nuclear weapons after conversion to weapons-grade, and reducing the time it would need to produce bomb-grade fuel. Iran would need one month to produce 25 kilograms weapons-grade uranium at the larger Natanz enrichment facility (using its 3.5% and 20% enriched uranium stockpiles) and approximately eight months total to produce 25 kilograms weapons-grade at the smaller, buried Fordow enrichment facility (using its 20% enriched uranium stockpile). Iran has already produced enough 20% enriched uranium with which to produce the 15 kilograms of weapons-grade uranium needed to fuel a warhead designed with a high level of technical capability in 2-8 weeks. For technical notes and further information on these estimates, see “The Iranian Nuclear Program: Timelines, Data, and Estimates.”
There is no indication that Iran is prepared to verifiably dismantle its nuclear program (including ending uranium enrichment and heavy water related activities), remove nuclear material from Iran, adhere to the IAEA’s Additional Protocol, or cooperate with the IAEA’s ongoing inquiry into Iran’s weaponization work. Iranian negotiators have continued to invoke the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT)--a treaty they are in standing violation of--as the basis for their supposed “right” to enrichment; the NPT does not, in fact, bestow any right to enrichment. Even the limited, short-term proposal put forth by the P5+1 aimed at curbing Iran’s 20% enriched uranium production--which would have limited impact on Iran’s ability to quickly produce weapons-grade fuel and fails to address the broader threat posed by the nuclear program--was dismissed in Moscow by Iran’s negotiator Saeed Jalili.