Region of Concern: Iran; Israel
Written By Cayla Lee; Edited by Jennifer Loy
Date: December 25, 2022
Gas Centrifuges for Uranium Enrichment
Event: On December 25, former Israeli Political-Military Bureau head and former Mossad Intelligence Director, Zohar Palti, said Iran is only days or weeks away producing 90%-enriched military-grade levels of uranium. He also confirmed Israel’s capability to attack Iran’s nuclear program even without support from the US. 90%-enriched uranium does not indicate Tehran’s ability to immediately produce nuclear weapons. However, proliferation experts have been warning that there is enough 60%-enriched uranium to produce at least one nuclear bomb.
Significance: Iran will very likely be able to construct nuclear weapons at quicker rates once it reaches 90%-enriched uranium. Neighboring countries and larger powers will very likely impose more sanctions on Iran in response to its potential growing arsenal. Sanctions are unlikely to deter Tehran since they largely impact citizens rather than authorities in power. Iran’s actions are likely to bring the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to attention again. With its updated nuclear capacity, Iran will likely challenge previous JCPOA measures, rather than agree to dismantlement once more. Since Israel was not part of the JCPOA negotiating party, the government will likely have less inclination to follow JCPOA measures. The government will likely consider military operations to pressure Iran if it demonstrates its ability to build nuclear weapons. The US is unlikely to back Israel if it launches a military offensive as doing so would almost certainly jeopardize attempts to revive the JCPOA, which includes Russia and China as negotiating nations.
Recommendations: The US should advise Israel against launching an offensive against Iran. Instead, the US and other JCPOA negotiating nations should invite Israel to new discussions to include all voices concerned with Iran. Other Middle Eastern countries, such as Saudi Arabia, should also be included in future negotiations as they will be most affected by immediate security threats posed by Iran. Negotiating nations should focus on limiting or deterring Iran’s ability to produce nuclear weapons, rather than complete dismantlement of its nuclear program. The role of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), should also be a focal point during negotiations for monitoring and verifying Iran’s supplies. The IAEA should have full ability to provide transparent reports regarding Iran’s arsenal.
 Iran closer than ever to weapons-grade uranium, ex-top defense official says, The Times of Israel, December 2022, https://www.timesofisrael.com/iran-closer-than-ever-to-weapons-grade-uranium-ex-top-defense-official-says/