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Fears Grow Over Iran’s Nuclear Program as Tehran Digs a Latest Tunnel Network


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The deal, which President Donald J. Trump abandoned in 2018, limited Tehran’s ability to put in latest centrifuges and compelled it to ship 97 percent of its nuclear fuel in a foreign country. Mr. Biden’s refusal of Iran’s demand to remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps from the list of terrorist organizations, together with a flow of recent revenue to Tehran resulting from today’s soaring oil prices, have contributed to the stalemate within the talks.

Now, the Iranians are on the lookout for latest pressure points, including the excavation of the mountain plant near Natanz. And over the past week, Iranian authorities have switched off 27 cameras that gave inspectors a view into Iran’s production of fuel.

The choice to chop off the cameras, which were installed as a part of the nuclear deal, was particularly worrisome to Rafael Grossi, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations agency accountable for nuclear inspections. If the cameras remain off for weeks, and it’s not possible to trace the whereabouts of nuclear materials, “I believe this could be a fatal blow” to hopes of reviving the accord, Mr. Grossi said last week.

But that is excess of an inspection dispute. Within the eyes of experts, Tehran is attending to the purpose of becoming what Robert Litwak, who has written extensively on the Iranian program on the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, called a “nuclear threshold state whose uranium enrichment program creates an inherent option — a hedge — to supply nuclear weapons,” without actually taking the last step.

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“Iran’s move at Natanz,” he said of the plant now under construction, “amps up pressure on america to succeed in a latest deal by highlighting the danger of a nuclear breakout should diplomacy fail.”

For a long time, a barren piece of land near Natanz has been the centerpiece of Iran’s nuclear effort. The country has at all times insisted that its underground “pilot plant” there’s working only to supply nuclear fuel for peaceful purposes — the production of nuclear energy. The evidence, a few of it stolen by Israel from a warehouse in Tehran, suggests otherwise: that Iran has had plans in place for twenty years to construct a bomb, if it concluded that it was in its interest.

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