The Islamic Republic of Iran’s underground Fordow nuclear plant is enriching uranium to 60% purity, joining a selection of other Iranian plants that have reached similar levels, Iranian state media reported.
Uranium enrichment needs to reach 90% purity to be used for a nuclear weapon.
Head of Israeli Military Intelligence Gen. Aharon Haliva noted at a security conference in Tel Aviv that “we are getting closer to the point where Iran will toy with enriching uranium to 90%, even if it will only be symbolic and in very small quantities at the beginning.”
“At this point in time, the Iranian supreme leader thinks that nuclear breakout will do more harm than good. But this could change quickly,” said Haliva before the Institute for National Security Studies audience.
According to the Iranian Students’ News Agency, the enrichment at Fordow was a “strong response” to the IAEA’s recent resolution that Iran cooperate with the international investigation into Iran’s nuclear program. The United States and the European Union reportedly pushed the resolution before the IAEA’s 35-member board, stating it “essential and urgent” that Iran account for the uranium traces found at three undeclared sites.
Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency reports that the Iranian regime has begun to replace the IR-1 centrifuges at Fordow with more advanced IR-6. The short-lived 2015 Iran nuclear deal, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, only permitted the regime to use first-generation IR-1 centrifuges.
Since the collapse of the Obama-administration agreement, Iran has installed a higher number of more advanced centrifuges.
On Monday, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said the IAEA resolution urging Iranian cooperation was “politically motivated.”
Haliva noted at the INSS conference that the external and internal pressures on the Iranian regime are driving it towards ever greater aggression.
“The death toll, the attacks on national symbols – this is very troubling for the regime, especially combined with sanctions, the existing international pressure and the difficult economic situation,” Haliva said.
Haliva said, however, that he does not believe the ongoing protests in Iran endanger the survival of the Islamic regime.
“There is a real concern within the regime that it endangers the regime. At this stage, I do not see a risk to the regime,” he said, “but as the pressure on Iran increases, including internal pressure, the Iranian response is much more aggressive, so we should expect much more aggressive responses in the region and in the world.”
Haliva noted that the Iranians are under so much pressure, they “are now considering attacking the World Cup in Qatar, as well,” with “the only thing holding them back” being how the Qataris will react.”
Haliva’s estimation was shared by outgoing Israeli Minister of Defense Benny Gantz.
“Iran is seeking to preserve instability as a constant thing. At a time when the world around it is stable and thriving – this is the opposite of what is happening inside Iran,” Gantz said. “The World Cup is likely to be one of those events at which it tries to cause instability.”
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.