As the indirect negotiations between the US and Iran are said to be entering the final stage, anonymous US officials told The Wall Street Journal that Iran’s civilian program is now too advanced that Tehran’s “breakout time” will be less than a year if the JCPOA is revived.
“Breakout time” is a term used in the US and Israel that means the time it would take for Iran to develop a nuclear bomb if they decided to make one. The estimates are generally made to make it appear that Tehran is secretly planning to make a bomb, but after decades of warnings, it still hasn’t happened.
The Journal report said Biden officials “concluded late last year that Iran’s nuclear program had advanced too far to re-create the roughly 12-month so-called breakout period.” The officials say the JCPOA was meant to create a one-year “breakout period,” but the agreement never outlined that.
A JCPOA revival would mean that Iran would reduce its uranium enrichment to 3.67 percent, vastly lower than the 90 percent needed for weapons-grade. Iran is currently enriching some uranium at 60 percent, which is still useless for making a nuclear weapon.
The JCPOA is also verified by strict inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), so there’s no reason to think Iran would suddenly race towards a bomb after agreeing to such strict rules.
The report also said that Washington is willing to lift the “bulk of the sanctions imposed by the Trump administration” in order to revive the JCPOA. US officials have signaled that the two sides could reach a deal soon. The talks are currently on pause but are expected to resume soon.