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Source: Iranintl

Feb 26, 2023

Author: Iran International Newsroom

Russia is proposing to help Iran on its missile program, CIA Director William Burns told CBS Sunday, while Tehran’s uranium enrichment program is far advanced.

In an interview on Face the Nation, Burns told Margaret Brennan that Iran’s military ties with Russia is “moving at a pretty fast clip in a very dangerous direction right now…”

At the same time, he said despite Iran’s uranium enrichment program which has advanced far and can produce bomb material in a matter of weeks, the United States believes a decision to produce nuclear weapons has not been made yet.

Manufacturing a bomb can be a more secretive process in comparison with enrichment, which the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is somewhat monitoring inside the country. While the enrichment installations are being monitored, the bomb-making process can take place in a completely separate and secret location.

The United States believes that Iran stopped its nascent weaponization program in 2003 when news about its secret nuclear program became public and Western powers began exerting pressure on Tehran.“To the best of our knowledge, we don't believe that the Supreme Leader in Iran has yet made a decision to resume the weaponization program that we judge that they suspended or stopped at the end of 2003,” Burns said during the interview.

Iran began breaching an enrichment limit imposed by the Obama era JCPOA accord after the Trump administration imposed full oil export sanctions in 2019. First, Tehran began enriching to 5 percent, beyond the agreement’s 3.67-percent limit, but when the Biden administration signaled its readiness to revive the deal, Iran announced enrichment to 20 percent in early 2021.

As negotiations were taking place in Vienna that year, Iran increased enrichment to 60 percent, which is very close to the 90-percent purity needed for nuclear weapons.This month Bloomberg reported that IAEA inspectors found 84-percent enriched uranium particles in an Iranian nuclear facility.

The UN watchdog has not denied the report, while Tehran has said that unintentional over-enrichment can sometimes happen in the fast-spinning centrifuges.Burns also warned that the close military ties between Moscow and Tehran can pose a threat not only to Ukraine but also to regional countries.

Iran has already provided hundreds of Kamikaze drones that Russia has used against Ukraine. Burns revealed that Iran has also provided Russia with ammunition for artillery and tanks.“Russia is proposing to help the Iranians on their missile program and also at least considering the possibility of providing fighter aircraft to Iran as well,” the CIA director said.

Iran already has medium-range missiles that could be modified to carry nuclear warheads but any Russian assistance in this regard could be extremely dangerous for the region and possibly beyond.Israel has vowed that it will not tolerate a nuclear Iran and is preparing to use military force if needed to neutralize its nuclear program.

US officials have also been increasingly signaling that President Joe Biden will not tolerate a nuclear Iran, after JCPOA talks hit a dead-end in September. "If they start getting too close, too close for comfort, then of course we will not be prepared to sit idly by," US Special Representative for Iran Robert Malley told National Public Radio in November.

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