Photo Credit: Screenshot from YouTube
President Biden delivers foreign policy remarks, Feb 4, 2021.

The United States will not lift crippling sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran until Tehran stops enriching uranium.

That’s what President Joe Biden told CBS Evening News anchor and managing editor Norah O’Donnell on Sunday in his first network news interview since his inauguration.


“Will the US lift sanctions first in order to get Iran back to the negotiating table?” Biden was asked.

“No,” he responded.

“They have to stop enriching uranium first?” O’Donnell asked.

The president nodded “yes” in response.

Last month, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told senators at his confirmation hearing that if Iran took the initiative and returned to compliance with the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal it had signed with world powers, “we would too.

“But we would use that as a platform to seek a longer and stronger agreement,” he added, “also to capture these other issues, particularly with missiles and other destabilizing activity.”

Blinken added, “We are a long way from there.”

Iran Increasing Nuclear Development Activities
Iran last month notified the IAEA of its intent to increase uranium enrichment to 20 percent, and also to produce uranium metal, a fuel used in atomic weapons.

One year ago, on February 19, 2020 the Iranian stockpile stood at 1,510 kilograms, according to the IAEA – more than five times the 300 kg limit set under the JCPOA. The Iranian stockpile of enriched uranium is now considerably larger.

According to some analysts even this is a sufficient amount to produce a nuclear weapon, although it would still require several more steps before it could be used in an atomic bomb.

However, the timeline has been considerably speeded up since then.

Last month (January 2021) Iran informed the IAEA that it plans to produce uranium metal from natural uranium and then to produce uranium enriched up to 20 percent as fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor.

Uranium that is enriched to 20 percent is just a short technical step away from weapons-grade 90 percent enrichment.

By January 28, 2021 Iran had produced 17 kilograms (37.5 pounds) of 20 percent enriched uranium, according to Iranian Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, who made the announcement in a televised speech during a visit to the country’s subterranean Fordow nuclear facility.

Qalibaf thanked the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI)in his speech.

Iran has set a goal of producing 120 kilos of 20 percent enriched uranium per year.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.