- In the Zagros Mountains region of central Iran, workers are reportedly building a nuclear facility so deep underground that it's unlikely to be destroyed by conventional US weapons designed to destroy such sites, according to experts and the Associated Press.1
- Construction is reportedly underway on a new underground facility at a site near Natanz. Pictures show that the facility will be built next to an above-ground centrifuge manufacturing center that was struck by an explosion and fire in July 2020; Tehran confirmed that the new site will replace the damaged facility.2
- The construction at the Natanz site comes five years after former US Pres. Trump unilaterally withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal. The deal limited Iran’s enrichment of uranium to 3.67% purity — just powerful enough for civilian power stations — and kept its stockpile to 300 kilograms (660 pounds).2
- Since the US withdrawal from the nuclear accord, Iran has announced it is enriching uranium up to 60%. However, inspectors recently discovered that Iran had produced uranium particles that were 83.7% pure, just a short step away from reaching the 90% threshold of weapons-grade uranium.3
- Experts say the size of the construction project indicates Iran likely would be able to use the underground facility to enrich uranium as well — not just to build centrifuges.2
- Iran's mission to the UN said that "Iran's peaceful nuclear activities are transparent and under the International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards."1
- Anti-Iran narrative, as provided by Associated Press. If the Iranian facility would be completed, it would be a nightmare scenario for the US — and Israel — that would send US-Iranian relations into a new escalatory spiral. If Iran managed to acquire a nuclear weapon, it would cross several US and Israeli red lines. Diplomacy is the best way to prevent conflict. However, the White House has said that the president has not removed any option from the table.
- Pro-Iran narrative, as provided by Al Jazeera. The only party to blame for increasing tensions between the US and Iran is Washington. Iran agreed to maintain a nuclear program only for civilian uses, but the US and Israel — both of which possess nuclear weapons — sought to inflame tensions. Iran wants peace and ultimately has no interest in arming itself with nuclear weapons, but Washington is forcing its hand.