Iran’s Outgoing President Teases 90% Enriched Uranium “If Needed”
Iran’s outgoing President Hassan Rouhani made comments that risk serious misunderstanding Wednesday, claiming that Iran could enrich uranium to 90% purity if they had a need to do so.
90% is considered weapons-grade. Rouhani was neither threatening to do so, nor suggesting Iran was going to make weapons. Indeed, his comments included the caveat that they would only be doing it on “the peaceful path” for use in a hypothetical reactor, though this explanation was only mentioned in some media reports on his statements.
“President Hassan Rouhani’s remark is his second such public comment this year about 90% enrichment – a level suitable for a nuclear bomb – underlining Iran’s resolve to keep breaching the deal in the absence of any accord to revive it,” Reuters wrote.
“The biggest obstacle to producing nuclear weapons is obtaining enough fissile material – weapons-grade highly enriched uranium or plutonium – for the bomb’s core,” the report noted.
But weapons weren’t really on the table in the first place. Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei long ago declared nuclear arms haram, making it religiously forbidden to even try to make them.
On top of this, the hypothetical reactor that needs 90% uranium simply doesn’t exist. Iran’s enrichment needs are generally in the 3% range, with the 50+ year old Tehran Research Reactor using 20% purity fuel.
Iran’s parliament ordered enrichment to 60% to protest Israeli sabotage efforts, but even that level had no apparent use, and presumably Iran is just going to have to dilute it back down to use it for anything.
Given that, it is scarcely worth Rouhani having brought it up. It may be intended to bolster Western interest in restoring the nuclear deal, which would cap enrichment levels.
Fri, 07/16/2021 – 06:30