“We had said that Iran will seriously react to any resolution and political pressure,” Iran’s nuclear agency chief, Mohammad Eslami, was quoted as saying Tuesday. “That is why Iran has started enriching uranium to 60% purity from Monday at the Fordow site. ”
That defiant gesture brings Iran to the brink of the 90% enrichment necessary of weapons-grade nuclear material, which could challenge President Joe Biden’s commitment not to allow the regime to acquire a nuclear weapon. U.S. officials have hoped to “put Iran’s nuclear program in a box” by restoring the 2015 nuclear deal, but those talks have been stalled by Iran’s unwillingness to accept the latest U.S. proposals and the emerging controversies over Tehran’s arming of Russia and abuse of protesters against the regime.
“The moment is coming when the greatest test of the international community will come to light, when Iran entertains [the idea of] enrichment at 90%, even if only symbolically,” Israeli military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva said Monday. “I wonder what the international community will do when Iran starts enrichment at 90%.”
The tension over Iran’s nuclear program has built in recent years as Tehran began to break out of the constraints imposed by the 2015 deal, following President Donald Trump’s 2018 decision to exit the pact and renew U.S. sanctions, in an apparent effort to induce the United States to drop a wide array of sanctions and return to the agreement. In parallel, U.N. nuclear inspectors warned that Iran had possessed undeclared nuclear material at sites it had hidden from the International Atomic Energy Agency officials tasked with monitoring Iran’s nuclear program, a violation that undermined not only the pact but Iran’s compliance with the Nonproliferation Treaty.
“Iran must provide technically credible explanations for the presence of uranium particles identified at three undeclared locations in Iran and clarify the whereabouts of the related nuclear material and/or contaminated equipment,” the United States, France, and the United Kingdom said in a joint statement last week.
The IAEA board of governors rebuked Iran for stonewalling IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi in a resolution adopted on Thursday.
“This is the second resolution adopted by the IAEA Board of Governors on these matters this year,” the American, British, and French joint statement continued. “We hope Iran takes this opportunity to cooperate with the IAEA in good faith toward closing these outstanding matters so that no further Board action on these issues will be necessary.”
“The resolution was adopted despite the fact that Iran has the most transparent peaceful nuclear program in the world compared to other [countries’] facilities that are under the agency’s oversight and has undergone the highest number of inspections and verifications,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani complained on Sunday.
“Unfortunately, instrumental use of international organizations against independent countries has turned into a norm in the West’s foreign policy,”