Iran Enriching Uranium Above 60% Could Trigger Military Strike, Says Israeli Official

Israel warned the Biden administration and several European countries that Iran would be entering dangerous territory that could trigger an Israeli military strike if it enriches uranium above the 60% level, according to a senior official. Increasingly concerned about advances in Iran’s nuclear program, Israel has in recent months ramped up its private and public threats of military action against Tehran in an apparent attempt to deter the country from escalating its nuclear program even further, according to Israeli officials.

Iran has amassed 87.5 kilograms of 60% enriched uranium, according to an International Atomic Energy Agency report from late February. Experts say that if that uranium is enriched to 90% weapons grade, it would be a sufficient quantity to produce at least one nuclear bomb. The IAEA is continuing to investigate Iranian activity in its underground nuclear facility in Fordow, which included enriching at least small amounts of uranium to 84% purity.

Israel, however, doesn’t consider the small amounts of uranium enriched at 84% purity as meaningful because Tehran didn’t amass any of the material at that level, the Israeli official said. A top US defence official told lawmakers last month that Iran will need only 12 days to enrich enough weapons-grade uranium to build one nuclear bomb, though the US has also said it doesn’t believe Iran has made the decision to resume its weaponization program.

The Israeli government is not defining a public “red line” at the moment the senior Israeli official said. The official added that Israel didn’t want to set 90% enrichment as a “red line” because officials believe Iran will feel it can begin enriching and amassing uranium at a level just short of weapons grade. That is why Israel is warning U.S. and European countries that any Iranian progress above 60% enrichment would be a step that could trigger military action against Tehran’s nuclear program.

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