Iranian leaders are threatening to restart the country's contested nuclear enrichment program in just a matter of days as the Trump administration and European allies scramble to address a range of flaws in the landmark nuclear accord ahead of a May deadline that could see the United States walk away from the accord, according to regional reports and administration insiders.
The head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization disclosed on Sunday that the Islamic Republic has maintained the ability to restart the full-scale enrichment of uranium—the key component in a nuclear weapon that was supposed to be removed from Iran as part of the nuclear agreement—in just four days.
Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran's atomic work, claimed Iran could enrich uranium to 20 percent, which is more than enough to quickly reach the threshold to power a nuclear weapon, in just four days if the word is given by Iran's hardline ruling regime.
The disclosure has roiled Trump administration insiders and nuclear experts who have been warning for months that Iran never fully disclosed the nature of its nuclear weapons work and progress as international leaders struggle to fix the deal by May, according to those who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon about the situation.
The Trump administration is pushing European allies to agree to a range of new strictures that would constrain Iran's ongoing nuclear research, as well as its ballistic missile program, which has continued to progress unimpeded since the nuclear deal was locked in place.
"If senior Islamic Republic officials issue an order to resume the 20% enrichment, we can do it in [the] Fordo [nuclear facility] within 4 days," Salehi was quoted as telling reporters on Sunday in Iran's state-controlled press.
The comments are meant serve "as a warning" to the United States and other global powers, which Iran has accused of violating the accord by not implementing a series of economic concessions that would give Iran access billions in cash resources and business deals.
"Iran can even show more extensive progress in other parts of its nuclear activities to go beyond the previous levels," Iran's state-controlled Fars News Agency reported Salehi as warning.
Iranian leaders have also claimed that it can take its nuclear enrichment activities even further than it did before the agreement restricted such activity.