The Jerusalem Post

Despite upcoming election, Iran bolsters uranium enrichment drive


Iran is in the midst of a runup to a presidenti­al election. Although not considered a major contest, it is getting a lot of media attention in the country. This means that the regime is ostensibly distracted by the race, which has resulted in reduced rhetoric against the US and Israel. Neverthele­ss, pro-Iranian proxies in the region, such as in Iraq and Yemen, continue their attacks.

Tehran has now returned to the enrichment game, using uranium enrichment as a way to pressure the US and the West into giving Iran concession­s. For America, this means trying to get President Joe Biden’s administra­tion to reenter the “Iran deal.”

What can be seen in the latest news from the Islamic Republic’s enrichment propaganda machine? According to the reports, “Iran raises tensions with higher uranium enrichment” with 6.5 kg. of uranium enriched to 60%.

The world does not get to see the 6.5 kg. – we just have to take the Iranian regime’s word for it. According to a report from The National in the UAE, “Anywhere between 12 kg. and 40 kg. of 90% enriched uranium would be needed to make a bomb, depending on the sophistica­tion of the device, according to the US Union of Concerned Scientists.

“Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei was quoted by state media as saying the country had also produced 108 kg. of uranium enriched to 20% purity, indicating quicker output than the rate required by the Iranian law that created the process,” the report said.

On April 30, reports said that Tehran had “about 17 kg. of uranium enriched to 20% purity as of mid-February – and it has said it plans to produce 120 kg. in total during 2021.” It already had 55 kg. enriched to 20% by that time, other reports noted.

However, Iran also said in May that it had enriched uranium up to 63% purity, according to the Internatio­nal Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Under the 2015 “Iran deal” the country was not supposed to exceed 4% enrichment or stockpile more than 202 kg. of the enriched uranium, even at that low amount. In total it was not supposed to have more than 300 kg.

But Iran has been violating the agreement consistent­ly. By June 2020, it had stockpiled 1,571 kg. of low-enriched uranium, more than the March 2020 estimate of 1,020 kg. By February 2021, Iran had 2,967 kg., more than the 2,442 it had the previous November. By this time it already had 17.6 kg. enriched to 20%; by May this had reached 62.8 kg. enriched to 20% and 2.4 kg. enriched to 60%, with 3,241 kg. of enriched uranium in total.

Iran plays the West with its enrichment announceme­nts and declaratio­ns. It said in midApril that it would enrich to 60%, a level that only countries seeking to make a nuclear bomb would be trying to achieve. The amount of enriched uranium matters: The first US atomic bomb dropped in 1945 had 64 kg. of uranium enriched to more than 80%.

Iran’s use of enrichment could be part of a dash to construct and test a nuclear weapon. But the fact that the Islamic Republic makes much of this informatio­n public, while hiding other details of its program, suggests that part of the enrichment announceme­nts are designed for public consumptio­n in order to put pressure on the US and the West.

In February, it was revealed that the IAEA found uranium traces at two undeclared sites in Iran. The internatio­nal community wants answers about any undeclared nuclear material. This indicates that Tehran has both a secretive side to its program and a public one. What is known widely are the various reports over recent years about the increased enrichment, illustrati­ng a pattern of slow increases and stockpiles that are designed to pressure the US to return to the deal.

 ?? (Majid Asgaripour/WANA/Reuters) ?? A SUPPORTER OF presidenti­al candidate Ebrahim Raisi holds a poster of him during an election rally in Tehran last week.
(Majid Asgaripour/WANA/Reuters) A SUPPORTER OF presidenti­al candidate Ebrahim Raisi holds a poster of him during an election rally in Tehran last week.

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