Iran could have enough fissile material to create a nuclear bomb in “a matter of weeks” if it and the U.S. do not rejoin the Iran Nuclear Deal, Secretary of State Tony Blinken said Monday.
While there is a separate timeline for creating a working nuclear bomb once the fissile material has been obtained, Iran is much closer to obtaining the material than it was under the Iran Deal, Blinken told Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC. Blinken argued that Iran was at least a year away from obtaining sufficient fissile material under former President Barack Obama’s Iran deal. (RELATED: Iran Ends Nuclear Deal Commitment, Will No Longer Limit Uranium Enrichment)
“The time that it would take Iran – based on public reports, the time that it would take Iran to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon is down to, we think, a few months,” he said. “So that’s a real problem, and it’s a problem that could get more acute, because if Iran continues to lift some of these restraints imposed by the agreement, that could get down to a matter of weeks.”
“Now, the fissile material is one thing. Having a weapon that they can actually detonate and use is another. And so there has – there’s a timeline that’s probably different for that,” he added.
President Joe Biden asserted during his 2020 campaign that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was “working” before President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal in 2018. Iran announced it would no longer hold to the commitments in the deal on Jan. 5, 2020, three days after the U.S. killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike.
Biden has said he will return the U.S. to the deal, but he may face a closing window for doing so. The Iranian government has placed its deadline for the U.S. ending sanctions and returning to the deal at Feb. 21.
Biden’s White House has rebuffed the notion that it is up to the U.S. to make the first move. Asked about Iran’s window Friday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Iran must act.
“The first step here is for Iran to comply with the significant nuclear constraints under the deal,” she said.