Iran’s Provocative 20% Enriched Uranium Claims

European officials recently expressed grave concern about Iran’s July 6 announcement that it would begin using its stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium to produce enriched uranium metal. But it is another, earlier, and mostly unremarked on Iranian announcement that should be much more alarming. On June 15, Iran claimed to have 108 kilograms of 20 percent enriched uranium on hand. This would represent a remarkable advance over the 62.8 kilograms it had just 24 days earlier. If this rate of growth were sustained, Iran would be on course to accumulate enough 20 percent enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon, thereby dropping its breakout time to as little as 6 weeks, by mid- to late-July.

Producing 20 percent enriched uranium at this rate, however, would represent an incredible leap in Iran’s enrichment capabilities, almost tripling what it had been able to accomplish earlier this year. Such an advance strains credulity, suggesting that Iran is intentionally misrepresenting the size of its stockpile. Such exaggeration might be aimed at pressuring the United States into granting Iran sanctions relief in order to curtail its escalating nuclear activities. The timing of Iran’s announcement, however, just two days after the Bennett-Lapid coalition took office in Israel, could indicate that Iran sought to test the resolve of the new government.

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JINSA Staff Contributors

Blaise Misztal – Vice President for Policy

Jonathan Ruhe – Director of Foreign Policy