According to Rafael Grossi, the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Iranians have put in place a uranium enrichment plan to reach the 90% threshold needed to produce a nuclear device.
Tehran has launched a new process to increase the rate of enriched uranium production which now reaches 60%, a level that is approaching the fateful 90% threshold needed to produce the atomic bomb, according to Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Mr. Grossi's report comes as negotiations in Vienna to revive the 2015 agreement (JCPOA), which restricts the Islamic Republic's nuclear activities, remain at a standstill.
“The leader of the UN agency told member states that Iran has ‘configured a new mode of operation for the production of 60% enriched uranium’ at the Natanz plant in the center of the country. For Grossi, a second cascade of centrifuges has been activated - after the first one started in April - to raise the level of enrichment.”
In mid-April, Tehran started to raise the level of enrichment, up from the 20% previously set and well beyond the 3.67% limit included in the 2015 international nuclear agreement. To produce an atomic bomb, enrichment must be pushed to a threshold of 90% or more, although many other steps are necessary for final fabrication.
Over the past two years, Tehran has progressively violated the terms of the pact by easing restrictions on nuclear activities. The first steps in this direction date back to 2019, in response to the United States’ withdrawal in May 2018 from the JCPOA, and the reintroduction of severe sanctions, causing a collapse of the Iranian economy.
The temporary agreement will expire on June 24, 2022. Diplomats have so far been cautiously optimistic about the possibility of a new nuclear agreement, even though Joe Biden, the new American president, has maintained his predecessor's sanctions. Since April, American, European, and Iranian envoys have gathered in Vienna to try to restore the agreement.
The last meeting was held on June 20, the day after the Iranian presidential elections which saw the victory of the ultra-conservative Ebrahim Raisi, and since then no new date has been set, raising fears that the talks will definitively collapse.
In recent days, the EU has suggested a resumption in early September, as the Iranian leader has expressed support for efforts to lift the U.S. sanctions that are strangling the economy.
Rivalry with Israel, the desire to ensure a certain leadership vis-à-vis the Islamic world, and finally the way of securing a means of pressure in the negotiations with Europe and the United States are pushing Iran to speed up uranium enrichment processes.
There is much to fear for the equilibrium of the region and for the danger of the expansion of Islam, if the Islamic Republic of Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons. The recent convictions of Iranian citizens converted to Christianity show the virulence of Islam in Iran and the danger it poses to the Catholic faith in this country and its surrounding area.