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US official: Iran can produce fissile material for nuclear bomb in ‘about 12 days’

Centrifuge machines at the Iranian Natanz nuclear site.(Photo: Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Handout/EPA)

The United States Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl said on Tuesday that Iran could produce a sufficient amount of fissile material for a nuclear bomb in “about 12 days.”

Kahl’s comment was in response to a Republican lawmaker who criticized the Biden administration’s efforts to revive the controversial 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Kahl claimed that Iran’s breakout time dropped from 12 months to merely 12 days following former U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to leave the JCPOA agreement, while critics of the plan concluded that Iran had already not been abiding by its conditions.

“Iran’s nuclear progress since we left the JCPOA has been remarkable,” said Kahl. “Back in 2018, when the previous administration decided to leave the JCPOA, it would have taken Iran about 12 months to produce one bomb's worth of fissile material. Now it would take about 12 days.”

Kahl stressed that Washington believes diplomacy is the best solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis. 

“And so I think there is still the view that if you could resolve this issue diplomatically and put constraints back on their nuclear program, it is better than the other options. But, right now, the JCPOA is on ice,” said Kahl, adding that  he does not believe that the Iranian regime currently has the know-how to produce an operational nuclear bomb. 

In late February, United Nations atomic agency inspectors warned that the Iran's uranium enrichment had reached 84%, dangerously close to the 90% level required for manufacturing a nuclear weapon. 

After initially denying the claims, Iran ultimately admitted that it had enriched uranium to the 84% level. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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