TENSIONS Iran announced on Tuesday to produce 60% enriched uranium and thus approach the 90% threshold necessary to manufacture a nuclear bomb < p>
The Fordo power plant in Iran (illustrative image). — HO/Atomic Energy Organization of Iran/AFP
- Iran announced on Tuesday that it began production of 60% enriched uranium at a Fordo plant, raising fears of the preparation of a nuclear bomb.
- The international community condemned the decision of Tehran, which falls outside the framework set by the 2015 agreements.
- 20 Minutes returns to this rise in tension with the insight of Héloïse Fayet, researcher at the Center for from the French Institute of International Relations.
The nuclear policeman lectures, Iran retaliates. In recent days, tension has escalated between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Tehran. Faced with criticism of “her lack of cooperation” having started, this Tuesday, the production of uranium at 60% and that it was going to limit the visits of inspectors from the UN agency on its territory.
The decision of the Islamic Republic worries the community international, which did not miss to react. But while he faces internal revolts due to demonstrations linked to the death of Mahsa Amini, Iran seems determined; to move forward on nuclear. 20 Minutestakes stock with Héloïse Fayet, a researcher specializing in nuclear proliferation doctrines.
What happened? this Tuesday in Iran on the nuclear component?
On Thursday, November 17, the IAEA issued a resolution against the Persian country, blaming it for its “lack of cooperation” in nuclear matters. The UN agency had already issued criticism this summer, for the same reason. “We have said that political pressure does not change anything and that the adoption of a resolution (at the IAEA) will provoke a serious reaction,” Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (AEIO) chief Mohammad Eslami on Tuesday while announcing the production of “enriched uranium” 60 %” in the Fordo factory.
This threshold of 60% greatly exceeds that of 3.67% set by the company. by the 2015 agreement (JCPOA) between Tehran and the major powers aimed at prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. The Islamic Republic is thus dangerously close to the threshold of 90% enriched uranium, a level at which achieve to produce this ultimate deterrent. “The Iranian nuclear dossier is cyclical, even escalating: it’s an endless dynamic between the IAEA, which criticizes the advances in enrichment and calls for new sanctions and Iran reacting by pursuing its program, sometimes in a vehement way”, analyzes Hélo&ium;se Fayet. A novelty, all the same: Iran’s public acknowledgment of enriching uranium with 60%.
What can Iran do with this enriched uranium? 60 % ?
Today, Iran has a reserve of 386.4 kilos of uranium. 20% for “civil or military applications” and more than 60 kilos of enriched uranium. 60%. “The time it takes to go from 60% enrichment to 90% is much lower, compared to 90%. the operation which consists of enrich from 20 to 60%. The more enriched uranium you have, the easier it is to increase the enrichment,” 20 Minutes Héloïse Fayet, also director of a research program called “Deterrence and Proliferation.”
With their provisions, the Iranians can form a bomb or nuclear missile head. But getting quality uranium military (90%) is not a sufficient condition to immediately use this weapon. “Weaponizing the nuclear payload, that is, putting it on a missile and delivering it precisely to your target, is a process that can take years to complete. es”, tempers Héloïse Fayet.
No immediate threat therefore, but vigilance is required. Because the monitoring of an enrichment process is easier to manage. control only the final phase, that of the militarization of the head. In its arsenal, Tehran has Khoramshahr missiles, which could (in the future) carry a nuclear warhead and whose maximum range is around “2,000 kilometers ;”. The weapon would therefore not make it possible to hit the United States, a great enemy of Iranian power. On the other hand, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, regional rivals of Tehran, could find themselves under this threat.
The resumption of a dialogue between the ;Is Iran and the West possible?
On the nuclear file, the ditch between Iran and the West is widening day by day. Western nations have not failed to respond to announcements from Tehran. “Iran’s decision to increase its production of highly enriched uranium at the Fordo underground enrichment site is of particular concern,” Tuesday London, Paris and Berlin. On the same day, the White House expressed his “deep concern” facing the “”progress” Iranian nuclear program.
In 2015, the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) was signed. between Tehran, the five permanent members of the security council; of the UN (Russia, France, China, United Kingdom, United States), Germany and the European Union has defined a framework: to limit the Iranian nuclear program in exchange for ;a lifting of economic sanctions to against Tehran. Except that in 2018, the United States of Donald Trump left the agreement. “Nobody will dare to officially say that the deal is dead, but there is almost no chance of going back to it. the table of negotiations at; short term”, says Héloïse Fayet.
Our dossier on Iran
Especially since the war in Ukraine has finished separating the protagonists. The exclusion of Russia from the community has strengthened an anti-Western sense of Iranian power, allied to of the Kremlin. With the Ukrainian conflict, the various actors also no longer have the time to work when the negotiations return. And, finally, Tehran’s attitude towards IAEA inspections also exacerbates tensions (destruction of surveillance cameras, restrictions on controls, etc.).
< p>“Since they resumed in 2021, we’ve never been to such a closed stadium negotiations,” summarizes Héloïse Fayet. Still, there is no clear red line yet in this case, but if Iran achieves enrichment at some point 90%, the United States or other countries like Israel will react “diplomatically or even militarily”, predicts our expert.