Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl offered one of the most striking US government assessments to date of Iran’s “breakout time” as efforts to try to restore the Iran nuclear deal remain halted.
Kahl said that “Iran’s nuclear progress since” the administration of President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the 2015 nuclear deal “has been remarkable.”
“Back in 2018, when the previous administration decided to leave the JCPOA, it would have taken Iran about 12 months to produce one fissile, one bomb’s worth of fissile material,” Kahl stated at a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday, using the acronym for the formal name of the agreement: the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
“Now it would take about 12 days,” he added.
Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons, stressing its nuclear technology is solely for civil purposes.
In recent months, the administration has announced that the agreement is “not on the agenda,” in the words of State Department spokesperson Ned Price.
Kahl noted that the agreement is “on ice” in part because “Iran’s behavior has changed since then, not the least of which their support for Russia and Ukraine.”
Iranian officials have blamed the United States for the stalemate in talks aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear deal, stressing the current situation is due to Washington’s policies and miscalculations.
Iran rolled back its compliance with the 2015 accord after the US unilaterally withdrew from the deal in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Iran.
Tehran and the remaining signatories to the deal have held talks on reviving the accord since April 2021, after Joe Biden came to power in the US. But those talks have been stalled for months amid Washington’s procrastination and refusal to provide guarantees.
Iran says an agreement on the revival of the deal hinges on the settlement of issues between Tehran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as well as the removal of all US sanctions on the country.