Germany, France, UK ‘Deeply Concerned’ Over Iranian Enrichment Activity
The foreign ministers of Germany, France and the United Kingdom urged Iran to halt the resumption of 20% uranium enrichment, in a statement Wednesday.
“We are deeply concerned by the commencement by Iran on the 4th of January of uranium enrichment up to 20% at the underground facility of the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant,” said the statement by representatives of the three European countries party to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, a group sometimes known as the E3.
“This action, which has no credible civil justification and carries very significant proliferation-related risks, is in clear violation of Iran’s commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) and further hollows out the Agreement,” it added.
On Monday, Iran said it had resumed the process of producing 20% enriched uranium, making good on legislation passed last month in response to the killing of its top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, which it blamed on Israel.
David Albright, a physicist and the president of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Science and International Security, told The Algemeiner that with enough 20% enriched uranium, Iran’s breakout timeline to a bomb could ultimately be as short as six weeks.
“A month gets a little tight for military action — particularly when, at the end of that month, they’ve got enough for a bomb, and they may have created some secret sites that you don’t know about,” said Albright, who worked with the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Action Team from 1992 until 1997.
A shorter timeline would also make it easier to exclude international inspectors for long enough to make strides towards a nuclear weapon.
The nuclear deal — struck in 2015 with Germany, France, and the United Kingdom, plus China, Russia, the European Union and the United States — limited the amount of enriched uranium that Iran was permitted to stockpile, and capped the level of refinement at 3.67%. Iran breached both of those limitations in 2019, in what it calls a response to the 2018 US withdrawal from the accord by President Donald Trump.
“Can Fordow be destroyed? The US says it can, Israel says it can’t,” said Albright, referring to the underground facility now producing the more highly-enriched material. “What would it take to get the US to strike militarily? It may be much harder under a ‘Biden’ than a ‘Trump.’”