On July 10, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) reported that Iran was not producing a nuclear weapon. But it warned that Tehran had accelerated its overall nuclear program. “Iran continues to increase the size and enrichment level of its uranium stockpile beyond JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] limits,” the ODNI said.
By the end of May 2023, Tehran’s stockpile of 60-percent enriched uranium had grown to 114.1 kilograms (251 pounds), a 25-percent increase since February 2023, according to an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report. Uranium enriched to 60 percent purity was only a technical step away from 90 percent or weapons-grade.
Iran “continues to exceed JCPOA restrictions on advanced centrifuge research and development, and continues uranium enrichment operations at the deeply buried Fordow facility, which was prohibited under the JCPOA,” the ODNI added. It also noted that Tehran’s ballistic missile program posed a threat to regional security. The following is the ODNI report on Iran's nuclear activities.
In accordance with Section 5593(e)(1) in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023, as enacted by the U.S. Congress, this assessment and classified annex is provided by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and examines Iran’s efforts and advancements in its nuclear enrichment program and information related to potential weaponization and delivery systems.
IRAN’S NUCLEAR AND MISSILE ACTIVITY
Iran is not currently undertaking the key nuclear weapons-development activities that would be necessary to produce a testable nuclear device. Since the assassination of nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in November 2020, Iran has accelerated the expansion of its nuclear program, stated that it is no longer constrained by any Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) limits, and undertaken research and development activities that would bring it closer to producing the fissile material needed for completing a nuclear device following a decision to do so.
- Iran consistently has cast its resumption of nuclear activities that exceed JCPOA limits as a reversible response to the U.S. withdrawal from the agreement. Iran continues to message that it would return to full compliance if the United States provided sanctions relief and fulfilled its JCPOA commitments, and if the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) closed its safeguards investigations related to three undeclared nuclear sites.
- In 2021, the IAEA verified that Iran conducted research on uranium metal production and has produced small quantities of uranium metal enriched up to 20 percent. While Iran made this enriched uranium metal as part of its research and development for a new type of reactor fuel, the production of uranium metal was prohibited under the JCPOA as a key capability needed to produce nuclear weapons.
- Iran continues to increase the size and enrichment level of its uranium stockpile beyond JCPOA limits. Iran continues to exceed JCPOA restrictions on advanced centrifuge research and development, and continues uranium enrichment operations at the deeply buried Fordow facility, which was prohibited under the JCPOA. Iran has been enriching and accumulating uranium hexafluoride (UF6) up to 60 percent, U235 since April 2021, and continues to accumulate UF6 enriched up to 20 percent.
Iran’s ballistic missile programs, which already include the largest inventory of ballistic missiles in the region, continue to pose a threat to countries across the Middle East. Iran has emphasized improving the accuracy, lethality, and reliability of its missiles. Iran’s work on space launch vehicles (SLVs)—including its Simorgh—shortens the timeline to an ICBM if it decided to develop one because SLVs and ICBMs use similar technologies.