By: Denise Simon | Founders Code
It has long been declared by the mullahs of Iran that their nuclear development operation was only for peaceful purposes. Well, then why hide it? The Associated Press did some good reporting that many other news outlets picked up. This should change the newly formed relationships now in the Middle East and those European leaders need a sobering and honest rethink of Iran.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Near a peak of the Zagros Mountains in central Iran, workers are building a nuclear facility so deep in the earth that it is likely beyond the range of a last-ditch U.S. weapon designed to destroy such sites, according to experts and satellite imagery analyzed by The Associated Press.
The photos and videos from Planet Labs PBC show Iran has been digging tunnels in the mountain near the Natanz nuclear site, which has come under repeated sabotage attacks amid Tehran’s standoff with the West over its atomic program.
With Iran now producing uranium close to weapons-grade levels after the collapse of its nuclear deal with world powers, the installation complicates the West’s efforts to halt Tehran from potentially developing an atomic bomb as diplomacy over its nuclear program remains stalled.
Completion of such a facility “would be a nightmare scenario that risks igniting a new escalatory spiral,” warned Kelsey Davenport, the director of nonproliferation policy at the Washington-based Arms Control Association. “Given how close Iran is to a bomb, it has very little room to ratchet up its program without tripping U.S. and Israeli red lines. So at this point, any further escalation increases the risk of conflict.”
The construction at the Natanz site comes five years after then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the nuclear accord. Trump argued the deal did not address Tehran’s ballistic missile program, nor its support of militias across the wider Middle East.
But what it did do was strictly limit Iran’s enrichment of uranium to 3.67% purity, powerful enough only to power civilian power stations, and keep its stockpile to just some 300 kilograms (660 pounds).
Since the demise of the nuclear accord, Iran has said it is enriching uranium up to 60%, though inspectors recently discovered the country had produced uranium particles that were 83.7% pure. That is just a short step from reaching the 90% threshold of weapons-grade uranium.
As of February, international inspectors estimated Iran’s stockpile was over 10 times what it was under the Obama-era deal, with enough enriched uranium to allow Tehran to make “several” nuclear bombs, according to the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
President Joe Biden and Israel’s prime minister have said they won’t allow Iran to build a nuclear weapon. “We believe diplomacy is the best way to achieve that goal, but the president has also been clear that we have not removed any option from the table,” the White House said in a statement to the AP.