Israel and Iran are rapidly approaching an inflection point over Tehran’s nuclear program, and what was the atomic equivalent of a controlled clash between the two countries is now devolving into an unconstrained chain reaction. In late May, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations agency tasked with globally overseeing nuclear technology and use, reported that Iran possesses enough fissile material to construct a nuclear bomb. Jerusalem’s long-feared specter of Tehran becoming an existential threat to Israel is now very real and imminent.
Iran’s amassing of 95 pounds of highly enriched uranium (HEU) is deeply concerning. Sufficient HEU mass is required for a nuclear chain reaction to sustain itself and Tehran has ominously crossed that minimum threshold. More telling, however, is Iran’s decision to enrich its HEU stockpile to 60 percent — a level significantly beyond the 3 percent to 5 percent HEU enrichment needed to produce fuel for medical experiments and nuclear power plants. Spoken or not, Tehran is clearly aiming for 90 percent HEU enrichment, the level necessary to build an atomic bomb.