US Officials Say Iran Asked Russia to Help Build Its Nuclear Program: REPORT
Iran recently sought Russia’s help to expand its nuclear enrichment program, a move that could bring the regime closer to a nuclear weapon, U.S. intelligence officials told CNN.
Iran requested additional nuclear materials, as well as assistance with nuclear fuel fabrication, a process that converts enriched uranium into fuel for nuclear reactors, CNN reported Friday, citing U.S. intelligence officials briefed on the matter. The officials could not say whether Russia had responded positively to Iran’s request, but the help Iran is seeking could dramatically reduce the time it would take to turn weapons-grade uranium into a nuclear weapon as prospects of a renewed nonproliferation agreement with the U.S. have plummeted to almost zero.
The experts also emphasized that the risk of fuel and material supplies from Russia was unclear as well, contingent on the nuclear reactor to which Iran diverted the fuel, according to CNN.
While Iran claims its nuclear program exists for peaceful purposes alone, both U.S. and independent international organizations warn that Iran’s nuclear program has far exceeded the parameters of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). In addition, Iran has rapidly accelerated uranium enrichment in recent months.
Iran’s nuclear “breakout time,” the amount of time required to accelerate production of enough fissile material to construct a nuclear weapon, has decreased from months to weeks in 2022.
Democrats and the Biden administration have sought to renegotiate and reenter nuclear deal giving Iran sanctions relief in exchange for temporary caps on its nuclear program, which former President Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018.
“As we have said, the JCPOA is not on the agenda,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson told CNN. “We have been working with partners to expose the growing ties between Iran and Russia — and hold them accountable. We will be firm in countering any cooperation that would be counter to our non-proliferation goals.”
— Jason Brodsky (@JasonMBrodsky) November 4, 2022
When asked Thursday whether evidence of Iran’s direct support to the Russian war effort would dissuade the administration from continuing to pursue the nuclear deal, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price honed in on Russia’s “grotesque objectives” targeting civilian areas.
“We’ve heard nothing in recent weeks to suggest that Iran is prepared or preparing to change its approach, and so right now the eyes of the world are where they should be,” Price said after further questioning, characterizing any discussion of a return to the JCPOA as “largely academic.”
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Tehran and Moscow have deepened ties; Iran is supplying so-called suicide drones for Russia’s war efforts that have inflicted devastating attacks on Ukrainian personnel and critical infrastructure, the Pentagon and White House have confirmed.
Members of Iran’s paramilitary guard force may also provide training and logistics support to Russian drone operators in Crimea, according to the White House.
Iran continues to be complicit in “exporting terror,” Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said on Oct. 20.
The Russian Embassy and the Iranian Mission to the United Nations in New York City did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.
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