IRAN is a “month away” from having enough lethal uranium to build a nuclear bomb in a chilling threat to the West, experts claim.
Tehran is closer than ever to reaching bomb-grade level uranium since the 2015 nuclear deal, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Experts studying data from reports published by the IAEA last week claim Iran has gained the capability to produce enough fuel for a single nuclear warhead, according to the New York Times.
Analysts from Institute for Science and International Security – a private think tank – said that a race over the summer to enrich uranium at 60 per cent purity – just below bomb grade – has put Iran in a position to produce the fuel for a bomb in “as short as one month”.
A second weapon’s worth of fuel could be produced in less than three months and a third in less than five, it says.
US officials have been banned from discussing official assessments but concede the pariah state could be months away from its first nuke, the New York Times adds.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken admitted terms under a prior deal America pulled out of would have to be upgraded due to Iran’s quick fuel gain over summer.
“I’m not going to put a date on it, but we are getting closer to the point at which a strict return to compliance,” he said.
“As time goes on and as Iran continues to make advances in its nuclear program, including spinning more sophisticated centrifuges, enriching more material, learning more, there is a point at which it would be very difficult to regain all of the benefits” of the 2015 nuclear deal.
He added: “We’re not at that point yet, but it’s getting closer.”
The US pulled out of a nuclear accord in 2019 that forced Iran to ship out more than 97 per cent of its fuel.
The announcement comes as Iran agreed to allow international inspectors to install new memory cards into surveillance cameras at sensitive nuclear sites, but won’t let them have the footage.
Director-General of the IAEA, Rafael Grossi told reporters on his return from Tehran: “We had a major, major communication breakdown with Iran, which, of course, is something we cannot afford, having so many important issues that we need to solve. And I think that was solved.”
The IAEA told member states in its confidential quarterly report last week that verification and monitoring activities have been “seriously undermine” since February by Iran’s refusal to let inspectors access their monitoring equipment.
The recent announcement comes after Israel warned Tehran was ten weeks away from a nuclear bomb in early August.
Israel’s defence minister Benny Gantz said that “now is the time for deeds – words are not enough,” as he warned the hardliner Islamic Republic had enough fuel to stock a nuclear warhead.
“It is time for diplomatic, economic, and even military deeds, otherwise the attacks will continue,” he told the news website Ynet.
Asked whether Israel was ready to strike Iran if need be, Gantz simply responded: “Yes.”
Western intelligence officials say Iran is now deliberately concealing key components of its controversial nuclear programme from UN inspectors.
The equipment reportedly being hidden from sight includes essential parts and pumps for centrifuges – the machines used to enrich uranium to weapons grade.
Many of the illicit components are being being stored at secret sites which are run by the country’s feared Revolutionary Guard Corps, reports the Telegraph.
In March, the Sun Online also told of how Iran had nearly tripled its stockpile of enriched uranium since November and now has more than enough to make a nuke.
Spies believe the hidden material – which should be declared under terms of Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal – is being secretly stored in dozens of containers at various sites.