Iran’s atomic chief warned Tuesday the Islamic Republic needs only five days to ramp up its uranium enrichment to 20 percent, a level at which the material could be used for a nuclear weapon.
The comments by Ali Akbar Salehi to Iranian state television come as US President Donald Trump repeatedly has threatened to renegotiate or walk away from the 2015 nuclear deal.
Salehi’s warning, along with recent comments by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, show Iran is willing to push back against Trump while still acknowledging they want to keep the deal, which lifted crippling economic sanctions on the country.
Iran gave up the majority of its stockpile of 20-percent enriched uranium as part of the nuclear deal it struck with world powers, including Trump’s predecessor, president Barack Obama. The accord, which lifted sanctions on Iran, currently caps the Islamic Republic uranium enrichment at 5 percent.
The Obama administration and most independent experts said at the time of the deal that Iran would need at least a year after abandoning the deal to have enough nuclear material to build a bomb. Before the deal was struck, they said the timeframe for Iran to “break out” toward a bomb was a couple of months.
Rouhani’s comments were sparked by Trump signing a sanctions bill imposing mandatory penalties on people involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program and anyone who does business with them. The US legislation also applies terrorism sanctions to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and enforces an existing arms embargo.
A top admiral has said that the US Navy will 'consider' whether two fatal collisions this summer could have been the result of a cyber attack.
Admiral John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, said on Monday that there were 'no indications right now' that the two ships were hacked, but added investigators 'will consider all possibilities'.
The shocking possibility emerged as the Navy ordered a broad investigation into the performance and readiness of the Pacific-based 7th Fleet.
Early Monday, the USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker in Southeast Asian waters, leaving 10 American sailors missing and several others injured.
It was the second major collision in the last two months involving the Navy's 7th Fleet, after seven sailors died when the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship collided in waters off Japan on June 17.
Early Tuesday, three navies were hunting desperately for the McCain's 10 missing sailors as the search and rescue mission dragged into a second day.
As part of an ongoing investigation into the USS Fitzgerald incident the Captain, the Executive Officer and Master Chief Petty Officer were removed from duty last week.
'The collision was avoidable, and both ships demonstrated poor seamanship,' the Navy's 7th Fleet said in a statement, noting that 'flawed' teamwork among those assigned to keep watch contributed to the collision.
The Navy said the three had shown 'inadequate leadership.' Separately, seven junior officers were relieved of their duties because they had shown 'poor seamanship' and bad teamwork, 7th Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Clay Doss said on Friday.