Iran is allegedly assembling a “key material for nuclear warhead production”, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Tehran reportedly starting work on an assembly line to manufacture a key material used at the core of nuclear warheads, the United Nations atomic agency said in a confidential report.
The confidential report was provided to member states, but the Wall Street Journal allegedly got access to it.
Iran tells agency it sees a 3 step process. 4-5 months to install equipment for step one: UF6 gas into UF4 powder. Step two, UF4 into uranium metal, timing unknown. Likewise step 3, uranium metal to silicide, a fuel to use in Tehran Research Reactor, it claims. -2-
— laurence norman (@laurnorman) January 13, 2021
Iran has told the watchdog that it has started manufacturing equipment it will use to produce uranium metal at a site in Isfahan in coming months.
Uranium metal can be used to construct the core of a nuclear weapon.
It, however, hasn’t produced any yet.
Inspectors with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Iranian officials notified them that they will begin to install equipment capable of producing uranium metal in the next four to five months at a site in Isfahan, according to the Journal.
Incoming US President Joe Biden signaled a willingness to return the United States to the deal known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.
Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, however, said his government is in no hurry to see the US return to a 2015 nuclear deal, adding it was not a question of “whether the United States returns or not,” but a matter of it lifting its unilateral sanctions.
“We are in no rush and we are not insisting on their return. Our demand, which is both logical and rational, is the lifting of sanctions” that outgoing US President Donald Trump imposed after quitting the deal in 2018.
Regardless, also on January 13th, Israeli official Tzachi Hanegbi, considered an ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened that Israel could attack Iran’s nuclear program if the United States rejoined the nuclear deal.
He said that the incoming US administration must not “appease” Iran, and warned Tehran the Jewish state will not tolerate its military presence in Syria or its development of nuclear weapons.
“If the United States government rejoins the nuclear deal — and that seems to be the stated policy as of now — the practical result will be that Israel will again be alone against Iran, which by the end of the deal will have received a green light from the world, including the United States, to continue with its nuclear weapons program,” Hanegbi said.
“This of course we will not allow. We’ve already twice done what needed to be done, in 1981 against the Iraqi nuclear program and in 2007 against the Syrian nuclear program,” he said, referring to airstrikes on those two countries’ nuclear reactors.
He was also asked if US President Donald Trump would actually call forth a farewell strike on Iran in his last 7 days in office, the Likud official responded the following:
“The [Israeli] assessment is that nothing dramatic will happen during this week,” he said.
The recent airstrike that reportedly killed quite a bit of Syrian soldiers and other Iranian allies in Syria was attributed to Israel, but Hanegbi didn’t confirm anything.
“We don’t acknowledge this or other strikes,” Hanegbi said. “The Iranians want permission from Assad to act freely in Syria, to transform it into the model of Hezbollah [the Lebanon-based Iran-backed terror group]. This is all to deter us from acting against its nuclear program.”
Hanegbi also warned the incoming Biden administration against “appeasing” Iran.
“The most important thing is to convince the incoming American administration not to repeat the mistakes of the Obama administration — to appease the Iranians. This only increased Iranian aggression and defiance. They saw this as American weakness,” said Hanegbi.
Additionally, Likud minister Yuval Steinitz said Israel was engaged in a “tremendous effort against Iran and its attempts to obtain nuclear weapons and establish itself [militarily] in Syria.”
If these reports are true, and the UN and the IAEA have identified the facility, it could be that Tel Aviv actually carries out a strike on Iran’s nuclear program, be it a weapon or not.
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