They’ve also stated that they’re capable of ramping up their nuclear capacity very quickly, In fact, on Tuesday, Iran’s atomic chief said that the Islamic Republic needs only five days to ramp up its uranium enrichment to 20 percent, a level at which the material could quickly be further enriched for use in a nuclear weapon.
Ali Akbar Salehi made these comments on Iranian state television, and they come as U.S. President Trump repeatedly threatened to renegotiate or walk away from the 2015 nuclear deal.
As well, recent comments by President Hassan Rouhani show Iran is will continue to push back against Trump while acknowledging it wants to keep the deal for economic reasons. “If there is a plan for a reaction and a challenge, we will definitely surprise them,” said Salehi, who also serves as one of Rouhani’s vice presidents. “If we make the determination, we are able to resume 20 percent enrichment in at most five days.”
Uranium enriched to 20 percent can be further enriched in a matter of weeks to the point where it can be used in nuclear weapons. However, Iran gave up the majority of its stockpile of 20-percent enriched uranium as part of the nuclear deal, and the accord caps Iran’s uranium enrichment at under 5 percent. Irans maintains that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
The nuclear deal was opposed by a large bipartisan majority in Congress. Under it, Iran retains its ability to enrich uranium and continue its research and development of more advanced centrifuges.
The regime is charged with defying “the spirit” of the agreement, and is said to have engaged in other rogue conduct in contravention of various international laws and UN resolutions, but defenders of the deal have asserted that Iran that it is still complying with the nuclear accord itself.
The Washington Free Beacon reports that new evidence may prove that this may not be accurate. “New photographs obtained by congressional leaders show Iran shipping militant soldiers to Syria on commercial airline flights, a move that violates the landmark nuclear agreement and has sparked calls from U.S. lawmakers for a formal investigation by the Trump administration.”
A Washington, D.C. think-tank published these photographs, and provided them to Congress. They show Iran using its flagship commercial carrier, Iran Air, to ferry militants to Syria, where they have joined the fight against U.S. forces in the region.
This new evidence has upset congressional leaders, who are accusing Iran of violating the nuclear deal, which prohibits it from using commercial air carriers for military purposes. The photographs prompted a letter of concern sent to the US Treasury Department by lawmakers. They are demanding the Trump administration investigate the matter and consider imposing new sanctions on Iran.
The release of these photographs come as manufacturer Boeing moves forward with a multi-billion dollar deal to sell Iran Air a new modern fleet.