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 Iran nuclear timeline infographic
Graphic shows timeline of Iran’s nuclear programme.
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MILITARY

Iran edges closer in its bid for “the bomb”

By Duncan Mil

April 19, 2024 - Iran has more than 14,600 gas centrifuges spinning uranium hexafluoride gas to separate and enrich the isotope uranium-235. Weapons-grade uranium contains 90% purity U-235.

Iran began ramping up production of enriched uranium after U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of a deal in 2018 under which Tehran curtailed its nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.

The 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) introduced strict limits on Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions against Tehran.

The JCPOA slashed Iran’s stock of enriched uranium, leaving it only with a small amount enriched up to 3.67% purity.

In 2022, for the first time, Iran began enriching to 60% -- a level of purity the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says is technically indistinguishable from weapons-grade fuel.

According to the IAEA’s latest quarterly report, its stock of enriched uranium, capped at 300kg under the deal, stood at 5.5 tonnes in February.

Iran denies having a nuclear weapons programme, though Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has said that if it wanted to, world leaders “wouldn’t be able to stop us.”

In its report, the IAEA said: “Public statements made in Iran regarding its technical capabilities to produce nuclear weapons only increase the Director General’s concerns about the correctness and completeness of Iran’s safeguards declarations.”

Estimates of how long Iran would need for weaponisation vary between months and a year.

Sources
PUBLISHED: 19/04/2024; STORY: Graphic News
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