Iranian scientists could construct the key components of a nuclear bomb in fewer than two weeks, a top US defense official told lawmakers Tuesday.
Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl told the House Armed Services Committee that Iran’s nuclear program had made “remarkable” progress since former President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, signed by the Obama administration, Iran and five other world powers.
“Back in 2018, when the previous administration decided to leave the JCPOA, it would have taken Iran about 12 months to produce one fissile — one bomb’s worth of fissile material,” Kahl said after Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) asked why the Biden administration had attempted to resurrect the deal. “Now, it would take about 12 days.
“And so, I think there is still the view that if you can resolve this issue diplomatically and put constraints back on their nuclear program, it is better than the other options,” Kahl added, “but right now, the JCPOA is on ice.”
Kahl also confirmed to Banks that the White House had offered to rejoin the deal this past summer, but “the Iranians were not willing” to accept.
“And, of course, Iran’s behavior has changed, since then, not the least of which [is] their support for Russia in Ukraine,” Kahl went on.
Trump had said the agreement was “defective” and failed to “halt Iran’s nuclear ambitions,” since it removed limits on Iran’s future nuclear fuel production.
In 2020, Iran said it would no longer abide by the treaty’s limits following a US drone strike that killed top Iranian military general Qassem Soleimani.
US officials had previously indicated Iran could acquire the fissile material needed for a nuke within weeks.
However, the officials did not believe Tehran was proficient enough with the technology needed to actually construct a nuclear bomb, and Iran has denied having any such ambition.
A recent report from the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that uranium particles enriched to 83.7% purity were found at an underground Iranian nuclear facility, close to the 90% enrichment levels needed to make a bomb, according to CNN.
Additionally, Iran’s stockpile of uranium enriched up to 60% had more than tripled in the last quarter, the outlet reported, citing the IAEA.
President Biden had made continued attempts to revive the Obama-era deal since taking office, but the White House’s overtures had been rebuked by Tehran.
With Post wires