The International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) latest report on Iran’s known nuclear facilities highlights the regime’s progressing and undeterred pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability. Iran’s continued production of low-enriched uranium is increasing the feedstock available for rapid conversion to nuclear weapons fuel. Its significant, unexpected expansion of the buried enrichment facility at Fordow in the last three months will further reduce the time needed to produce this fuel. These advances demonstrate that various policy declarations, negotiations, and increasing sanctions have not halted Iran’s nuclear weapons program and its progress toward a faster breakout capability.
Iran has increased its stockpiles of both civilian reactor-grade (<5%) and research reactor-grade (near-20%) low-enriched uranium fuel while installing additional centrifuges for enrichment at the more hardened Fordow facility. Civilian reactor-grade fuel is 75% of the way to weapons-grade material; research reactor-grade fuel is 90% of the way to weapons-grade fuel. The growing stockpiles of both types are increasing the number of bombs Iran could fuel while simultaneously reducing the amount of additional time and effort needed for weapons fuel production (the most difficult step in developing an atomic bomb).
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