The clearest, most reliable picture to date of the state of Iran’s nuclear program was drawn on Nov 25 by Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, head of the US Central Command. He made eight strong points:
- “Iran is now further along in its nuclear weapons program than ever, producing stocks of uranium enriched to 60pc purity, edging closer towards 90pc weapons-grade material.”
- Iran has not yet made the decision to build a nuclear warhead, but “They’re very close this time.”
- “I think they like the idea of being able to breakout.
- “Even if Tehran decides to amass enough fuel for a bomb, they haven’t yet standardized a design for a warhead that’s smart enough to be affixed atop any of its arsenal of 3,000 ballistic missiles.
- “Nor has Iran shown that it can build a reentry vehicle capable of surviving the searing heat, pressure and vibration of falling from space back to Earth. We haven’t seen any of that.”
- Even if the Iranians step on the gas and speed up their program for building a warhead, they would still need more than a year for completion.
- Turning to Iran’s ballistic missiles, Gen. McKenzie noted that on Jan. 20, 2020, tens of Qiam-1 and Fateh-313 missiles were launched from three bases in western Iran towards two US bases in Iraq, the big Al Assad airbase and the one located at Irbil in Kurdistan. They caused no American injuries, he said, but reduced structures, aircraft and soldiers’ living quarters to “smoldering rubble.”
- The general went on to disclose, “Those missiles hit within tens of meters of their targets. The one thing the Iranians have done over the last three-to-five years is they built a very capable ballistic missile platform.”
The conclusion to be drawn from the CENTCOM chief’s disclosures is that a decision by the regime in Tehran to make Iran a nuclear threshold state could be carried out in a matter of weeks. It is with this capability on board that Iran sits down with five world powers in Vienna in two days’ time.