On Friday, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif met with his Turkish counterpart in Istanbul and said Iran does not seek nuclear weapons but instead wants to see all countries possessing such weapons eliminate them.
Zarif’s remarks come as Iran is increasing uranium enrichment to 20 percent, which is still much lower than the 90 percent needed for weapons-grade. While the stepped up enrichment is framed by the hawks as Iran racing towards a bomb, that is not the case.
One of the more obvious reasons for Iran’s new violations is to gain leverage with the new Biden administration. The increased enrichment was also a response to the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the Iranian scientist who was killed in an apparent Israeli plot.
Another purpose of the 20 percent enrichment is to make fuel rods for the Tehran Research Reactor, a nuclear facility built by the US in the 1960s. The facility can make medical isotopes that can be used for things like radiation therapy and advanced body scanning.
Despite the reality of Iran’s nuclear program and stance on nuclear weapons, these violations continue to be overplayed. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke of the need to stop Iran’s race towards a bomb on Friday.
“From our perspective, a critical early priority has to be to deal with what is an escalating nuclear crisis as they move closer and closer to having enough fissile material for a weapon,” Sullivan said, speaking at an online event hosted by the US Institute for Peace.