Iran’s Uranium Enrichment Doesn’t Get Them Close to Making a Bomb

60% enrichment is a new accomplishment, but still well short of weapons-grade

With Israel looking to sabotage Iran left and right, and the Iranian parliament looking to make tangible changes to the nuclear program in retaliation, Iranian officials struggle to make sure that they comply enough to keep parliament happy, while avoiding anything that’s going to hinder future peace talks.

Iran has long emphasized that everything they’ve done in this regard is reversible. Still, moves like enrichment of uranium to 60% are new milestones for Iran, and sound scary because they’re bigger numbers.

As far as a threat toward weaponization, not so much. It’s not at all clear what Iran would do with 60% enriched uranium, beyond likely dilute it back down to 20% or less. It’s still well short of the 90% needed for weapons-grade uranium, and with Iran continuing to be very transparent about what they’re doing, it’s just a proof of concept.

Even then, assuming Iran ever did end up with weapons-grade uranium, it has never attempted to turn that into a functioning weapon. That’s a non-trivial effort to make, and would be wildly controversial, with Iran’s religious leaders long maintaining nuclear weapons are religiously forbidden (haram). It would also be very time-consuming, and very difficult to keep hidden, given how transparent Iran is being about what’s happening with that uranium.

Going to 60% as opposed to a more usable level closer to 90% reflects Iran not wanting to either seek nuclear arms, nor confuse anyone about their intentions. Higher enrichment can be diluted down, and while that’s a waste of effort, it’s the sort of waste the world can live with, and keeps parliament feeling like they are doing something.

Reversible has always been the order of the day, and that remains the case for Iran’s program, meaning that there is little cause for concern about what’s happening.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.