US Claims Iran Preparing ‘Nuclear Breakout’

Pompeo demands world powers act against Iran

Iran restarted enrichment at the underground Fordow site overnight on Wednesday, and on Thursday US officials were accusing Iran of preparing a “nuclear breakout” situation the international community must unite against.

The concept of the “nuclear breakout” has always been ill-defined, but rests on the notion that at some point Iran would have such a substantial civilian nuclear program that it would be tantamount to an irreversible military program. Though it’s not clear that’s even theoretically possible, as nations like Canada and Japan have never been accused of approaching a “breakout” despite huge nuclear programs, attaching the label to Iran has been popular with US hawks and Israel.

The breakout idea is meant to push a narrative in which action, presumably a war, needs to be launched quickly. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took the lead in urging other world powers to do something to force Iran back into compliance with the P5+1 deal.

Ironically, Iran was cheerfully compliant with the P5+1 deal until the US withdrew from it, and started preventing other parties from complying with promised sanctions relief. Despite the US not being a party to the deal any longer they continue to harp on its enforcement.

At the same time, Iran has been very up front about what they are doing, and why they are doing it. Iran is seeking to force talks among remaining nuclear deal parties to work out sanctions relief, and believe the only way they can do that is to slowly move out of compliance with the deal. Iran has maintained that this would be a very reversible series of moves, and that it would much rather have sanctions relief than this bigger enrichment rate.The US seems to hope they can threaten them into a status quo where they have neither sanctions relief, nor enrichment, nor any recourse.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of