Iran claimed Monday that it could produce higher enriched uranium within a 48-hour period if the United States exits the 2015 nuclear deal, otherwise known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
“If America pulls out of the deal … Iran could resume its 20 percent uranium enrichment in less than 48 hours,” Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, told al-Alam TV, according to Reuters.
Iran has fired nearly two dozen ballistic missiles, at least 16 of them nuclear-capable missiles, since signing the controversial 2015 nuclear deal.
While President Donald Trump and his administration have indicated the United States’s intention to see the deal discarded, Germany, Britain, France, Russia, and China appear to be committed to keeping the deal intact.
Iran has continuously insisted that its ballistic missile program is purely for defensive purposes. The regime has also denied that it is supplying arms and missile technology to Houthi rebels in Yemen and, despite evidence showing otherwise, that the ballistic missiles that were fired into Saudi Arabia from Yemen were not theirs.
In December, Iran claimed that United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley “fabricated” her announcement that the charred remains of a short-range ballistic missile discovered in Yemen, which was prominently displayed behind her during her speech, originated in Iran.
That same month, an independent panel to the U.N. Security Council declared, “Design characteristics and dimensions of the components inspected by the panel are consistent with those reported for the Iranian designed and manufactured Qiam-1 missile.”
Last week, ahead of his trip to Iran this week, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian’s said at a news conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that Iran’s ballistic missiles program “worries us enormously.” He reportedly added, “Having such tools is not uniquely defensive, given the distance they can reach.”
In October, Iran said it has no need to increase the range of its ballistic missiles because they were already capable of reaching U.S. forces stationed in the region.