The Breakout Time
Amidst Anti-Hijab Protests, Iran has hinted that it is trying to make nuclear bombs! The State-run Iranian media recently reported that the Islamic Republic was enriching Uranium to 60% purity at the underground Fordow nuclear site.
As per an International Accord signed in 2015, the West Asian nation can use more than 20% of enriched uranium in order to meet its electricity needs. However, production of more enriched uranium is prohibited. Interestingly, Israel, the US and some Western nations have been claiming that the real purpose of Iran’s nuclear power programme is to develop nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, the Administration of President Ebrahim Raisi has informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that his country is using enriched Uranium to 60% purity for power generation only. At the same time, the State-run media have claimed that there has also been success in making nuclear centrifuges.
It may be noted that 90% or more pure uranium is required to prepare atomic bombs. According to a section of international observers, Tehran has not mastered that skill, as yet. In the past, the Natanz Nuclear Power Plant of Iran was accused of breaching the 2015 Accord, and of producing over-enriched uranium. The US and Russia had forced Iran to sign a nuclear disarmament treaty in an attempt to ensure that the Islamic Republic could not develop nuclear weapons secretly. Furthermore, all stockpiles of radioactive uranium isotopes were taken away from Iran. Now, Tehran has admitted that it is trying to make nuclear weapons.
In a separate development, the Pentagon has claimed in its latest report that China‘s stockpile of nuclear weapons has increased to more than 400 in less time than anticipated by the US, as the Asian Giant is focusing on increasing its nuclear capacity. As per the report, Beijing has doubled its nuclear warheads to more than 400 in just two years, and the stockpile would rise to 1,500 by 2035. In 2020, the US claimed that China would have just over 200 nuclear arsenal, and the Asian powerhouse could double its reserves in less than a decade. A couple of years later, the 2022 China Military Power Report stated that Beijing doubled its nuclear stockpile and it could have 1,500 nuclear weapons by 2035. Talking to the media, a senior US defence official has stressed: “What we have seen in the last few years is a really accelerated expansion.”
The National Defence Strategy for 2022, released in October, projects China as a major challenge to the US that the top Pentagon officials often emphasise. Keeping in mind China’s proximity with Iran and North Korea, one can assume that the US is receiving a serious security threat from Asia.
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