The Pentagon’s new Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) says the US believes Iran is not pursuing a nuclear weapon, but Biden administration officials are still threatening military action against Tehran to prevent it from acquiring one.
The NPR was released last week and reads: “Iran does not today possess a nuclear weapon and we currently believe it is not pursuing one.”
The National Defense Strategy (NDS) that was released with the Nuclear Posture Review also acknowledges that Iran has not made a decision to build a nuclear bomb. It reads: “Iran is taking actions that would improve its ability to produce a nuclear weapon should it make the decision to do so.”
Despite the Pentagon’s conclusion, President Biden’s special envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, said this week that the US would use military action as a “last resort” to prevent Iran from acquiring a bomb.
“We will use other tools, and in last resort, a military option if necessary, to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” Malley said.
Malley also said that the US wasn’t going to “waste our time” on negotiations with Iran to revive the Iran nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, even though the NPR recognized the agreement puts strict constraints on Iran’s nuclear program.
The NPR says that Iranian nuclear activity that the JCPOA previously constrained is “of great concern as they are applicable to a nuclear weapons program.”
After the US withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018, lifting Iran’s obligation to the agreement, Tehran waited a year before slowly increasing its nuclear activity. In more recent years, Iran has increased uranium enrichment in response to Israeli covert attacks and assassinations, operations the US tacitly endorses by never condemning them.