(Photo credit: NYT)
Washington doesn’t believe that Tehran is ‘resuming’ its alleged nuclear armament program, according to the director of the CIA, William Burns.
“To the best of our knowledge, we don’t believe that the supreme leader in Iran has yet made a decision to resume the weaponization program that we judge they suspended or stopped at the end of 2003,” the CIA chief said in an interview with CBS aired on 25 February.
“But the other two legs of the stool, meaning enrichment programs, have obviously advanced very far,” Burns added.
The CIA director’s comments come after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) nuclear watchdog was quoted as claiming that the Islamic Republic had reached uranium enrichment levels of up to 84 percent. These are ‘the highest levels detected by inspectors so far,’ and just six percent short of the 90 percent needed for weaponization, Bloomberg said on 19 February.
However, a spokesman for the Atomic Energy Agency of Iran (AEOI), Behrouz Kamalvandi, said that his country never surpassed an enriched uranium level of 60 percent.
In January, IAEA chief Rafael Grossi accused Iran of ‘failing to explain radioactive traces’ allegedly found at a number of Iranian nuclear sites. Tehran has questioned the IAEA’s credibility in the past, and has labeled it an organization ‘hijacked by Israel.’
Nuclear talks under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) have been stalled, once again, since August 2022, when the reaching of an agreement was ‘closer than ever before.’
However, following a frantic lobbying campaign by Israel, and the start of the unrest in Iran the following month, a potential agreement is once again further away from reality.
The alleged Iranian nuclear armament program that Burns spoke about in the CBS interview refers to the AMAD project, which according to the IAEA began in 1989 and ended in 2003, and aimed to weaponize nuclear energy. Israel claims that an Iranian nuclear armament program is still active.
The Islamic Republic has denied the existence of any such project.
Over the years, Iran has clarified repeatedly that it has never had any plans to militarize its nuclear program.
Obtaining a nuclear weapon is not only a violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) signed in 1968 but also a violation of its moral and religious values and of a fatwa (religious decree) issued by the country’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.