Secretary Antony Blinken and the White House on Tuesday said that Iran could develop a nuclear bomb in “a matter of weeks.” They both blamed former President Donald Trump for withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran aimed at pausing its weapons development.
“We continue to believe that getting back into compliance with the agreement would be the best way to address the nuclear challenge posed by Iran and to make sure that an Iran that is already acting with incredible aggression doesn’t have a nuclear weapon,” Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“We’ve tested the other proposition, which was pulling out of the agreement, trying to exert more pressure,” Blinken said, adding that Iran’s “breakout time” for developing nukes has dropped from one year “down to a matter of weeks.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed Blinken’s assessment at a press conference.
“What Secretary Blinken said during his testimony this morning was that [Iran’s] breakout period is down from about a year — which is what we knew it was during the deal — to just a few weeks or less,” Psaki said. “That is a direct impact of pulling out of the nuclear deal, making us less safe, giving us less visibility. And it’s one of the reasons we pursued a diplomatic path, again, when the President took office.”
“It definitely worries us,” she said, adding that “Iran has rapidly accelerated its nuclear program and reduced cooperation with international inspectors” in the absence of the agreement.
Biden administration officials have been negotiating with Iran on terms of a new deal, which could include concessions such as removing sanctions or even removing Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from the U.S. foreign terrorist list.
Earlier this month, 47 retired generals and admirals published an open letter to Biden condemning the potential deal, which they say “will enable the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism to cast its own nuclear shadow over the Middle East.”
“We oppose this emerging deal that is poised to instantly fuel explosive Iranian aggression and pave Iran’s path to become a nuclear power, threatening the American homeland and the very existence of America’s regional allies,” the letter added.
In 2018, Trump had announced he was withdrawing from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and imposing the “highest level” economic sanctions against the Middle Eastern nation.
“The United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal,” Trump said at the time, calling the deal “defective at its core” and a “disastrous deal” that gave the Iranian “regime of great terror” billions of dollars.