Iran gives timeline to resume its uranium development program

While acknowledging it intends to honor the nuclear deal made with the United States, Iran warned that it would only need five days to resume uranium enrichment. It said in that short time, the country could generate enough material to be used for a nuclear weapon.

On Tuesday, Iran’s atomic chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, sent a warning to the United States: “If there is a plan for a reaction and a challenge, we will definitely surprise them,” Salehi said. “If we make the determination, we are able to resume 20 percent-enrichment in at most five days.”

The statement flies in the face of what experts assumed the country was capable. The former administration had ascertained that Iran would need at least 12 months to produce enough nuclear material to build a nuclear weapon if they abandoned the deal.

The 2015 agreement was struck between Iran and the United States, Russia, China and three European powers. Iran agreed that it would cut back on its nuclear development efforts in exchange for relief from most sanctions. The deal caps the Islamic Republic uranium enrichment at 5 percent.

According to Fox News:

“While Iran long has maintained its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, uranium enriched to 20 percent and above can be used in nuclear bombs. Iran processed its stockpile of near 20 percent uranium into a lower enrichment, turned some into fuel plates to power a research reactor and shipped the rest to Russia as part of the deal.”

Salehi’s statement followed comments that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani made, which indicate Iran would be willing to react swiftly to “threats and sanctions” against the country. Iran says new sanctions are a breach of the nuclear deal and promised to pull out of the deal “within hours” if the United States imposed any further sanctions.

“Definitely, we are not interested in such a thing happening,” Salehi said. “We have not achieved the deal easily to let it go easily. We are committed to the deal and we are loyal to it.”

Prior to the accord, experts said “Iran could ‘break out’ toward a bomb in a couple of months,” according to FOX.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump said the Iran nuclear deal was “a disaster” of a deal. In July, after Iran launched a rocket considered capable of putting a satellite into orbit, then aired a ceremony featuring Iranian defense minister Hossein Dehghan bragging about it and its capabilities, the U.S. Treasury responded. It slapped six Iranian firms with sanctions over their participation in developing the missile program.

In August, Trump signed the sanctions bill, which also included terrorism sanctions to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and enforces an existing arms embargo.

Although the average Iranian is not seeing the economic benefits of the nuclear deal, according to Fox News, billions of dollars’ worth of deals have been struck with Airbus, Boeing, and some car manufacturers, as well as other companies, boosting Iran’s oil sales.

It would, therefore, not be economically prudent for Iran to abandon the nuclear agreement at this time.

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