CIA Director William Burns told CBS’ “Face the Nation” in an interview that the US believes Iran hasn't yet decided to resume its nuclear weapons program.
“To the best of our knowledge, we don’t believe that the Supreme Leader in Iran has yet made a decision to resume the weaponization program that we judged that they suspended, or stopped, at the end of 2003,” said Burns in the interview, which will air in full on Sunday.
“But the other two legs of the stool, meaning enrichment programs, they’ve obviously advanced very far,” he continued. “They’ve advanced very far to the point that it would only be a matter of weeks before they could enrich to 90% if they chose to cross that line, and also in terms of their missile systems, their ability to deliver a nuclear weapon once they develop it, has also been advancing as well.”
“We don’t see evidence that they’ve made a decision to resume that weaponization program, but the other dimensions of this challenge, I think, are growing at a worrisome pace too,” added Burns.
The interview with Burns follows an accusation from International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors that Iran enriched uranium to 84 percent purity for the first time, placing it closer than ever to weapons-grade material.
Iran was last known to enrich up to 60 percent, while a 90-percent threshold is required for use in a weapon.
The discovery of the uranium came as talks between Iran and world powers on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal remain stalled.
Former US President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in 2018, and Iran responded by scaling back its compliance with the agreement.
The Biden administration sought to return to the deal and held indirect talks with Iran on a return to compliance.
Those talks have been stalled since September, when Iran announced it had submitted its comments to the US response to the European Union’s draft for reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
While Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson said at the time that Iran’s response was prepared based on a constructive approach, a senior Biden administration official said the Iranian response "is not at all encouraging.”
A US official later said that the efforts to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal have “hit a wall” because of Iran's insistence on the closure of the UN nuclear watchdog's investigations.
Last month, IAEA chief Rafael Grossi warned that Tehran has amassed enough material for “several nuclear weapons”, though he added that Iran has not yet built a nuclear weapon and the West should redouble efforts to stop it from doing so.