It was recently discovered that Iran is much closer to obtaining a nuclear device than what was initially thought. According to a senior Pentagon officer, Iran could construct a nuclear device in roughly 12 days if desired. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) identifies and promotes best practices and safety standards and implements programs to assist states in applying these standards. The IAEA monitors the percentage of uranium enrichment and discovered that it had detected that Iran had the capability of enriching uranium to close to 84%, which is very close to weapons-grade uranium. Iran has previously been at around 60% uranium enrichment for two years in breach of a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. This increase has created serious concerns in the international arena.
In 2018, before the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was abandoned by President Trump, it was believed that it would take Iran 12 months to produce one bomb's worth of fissile material. The estimated amount of enriched uranium in Iran's stockpile has surpassed the cap outlined in the 2015 agreement between Tehran and other world powers by more than 18 times. Iran’s advancements since the JCPOA has been rapid and worrisome to the United States and other regional actors like Israel. Nuclear experts believe that even if Iran were to acquire weapons-grade uranium, it would still be roughly two years away from developing a nuclear weapon.
The rapid increase in uranium enrichment has led the US to focus more on creating a new JCPOA or Iran deal. Having an agreement in place would at least prevent Iran from getting closer to a nuclear weapon and ensure regional stability and the safety of US allies. The odds of Iran re-entering the JCPOA are slim, and attention should turn to create a new deal. The downside of a new deal is it would not have as much control over Iran’s nuclear development. Lastly, Iran could choose not to pursue acquiring a nuclear device just yet, and use its position to its advantage. Being on the edge of developing the technology needed for a nuclear weapon has its benefits and can improve Iran’s standing in the international arena.