Iran: Expert warns ‘time is running out’ to stop uranium enrichment
Mr Blinken has issued a stark warning in his first televised interview since he assumed his duties under the Biden Administration. Speaking to NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell, Mr Blinken said Iran could become a nuclear power within months.
He said: “It is a problem that could get more acute because if Iran continues to lift some of the restrains imposed by the agreement, that could get down to a matter weeks.”
The Secretary of State added: “Now, the fissile material is one thing. Having a weapon that they can actually detonate and use is another.
“And so there’s a timeline that’s probably different for that.
“But the bottom line is they are getting closer to the point where they would be either a threshold nuclear power, or actually a nuclear power.”
Siccil, Imad and Kadir ballistic missiles during a military drill at Great Salt Desert, January 16 (Image: Getty)
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However, he stressed he was issuing his opinion based on “what’s been publicly reported.”
He added: “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.”
Tensions between the two nations escalated in 2018 when former US president Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of their 2015 nuclear deal and imposed punitive sanctions on Iran.
Under the terms of the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA), the Islamic Republic agreed to curb its nuclear programme in return for the easing of economic sanctions.
Joe Biden’s cabinet (Image: Express)
In response to Mr Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement, Tehran gradually began to breach the terms of the accord, before refusing to comply with any of its protocols after the assassination of Major General Qasem Soleimani in January 2020.
President Biden has vowed to rejoin the treaty if Iran stops violating its terms.
Mr Blinken’s warning comes after Iran successfully launched its first ever space rocket powered by a solid-fuel engine.
The rocket, a Zolijanah SLV, can achieve a height of 310 miles and carry a payload of 485 pounds, according to reports.
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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (Image: Getty)
Ahmad Hosseini, spokesperson for Iran’s Defence Ministry, confirmed that the rocket is capable of launching a single 450-pound satellite or up to 10 smaller ones.
He added that the test helped Iran achieve its “most powerful” rocket engine and that the rocket can be launched using a mobile launching pad.
The solid-propellant space launcher has raised concerns about the long-term sustainability of Iran’s pledge to limit the range of its ballistic missiles to less than 2,000 km, according to the arms-control analyst Fabian Hinz.