Iran nuclear enrichment facility Reuters
A nuclear enrichment facility in Iran. Reuters

Adding to Israel’s grim worldview and plethora of woes, with Syria falling apart to the north and the Palestinians falling together next door, the International Atomic Energy Agency released a report this week that revealed Iran was exponentially stepping up its nuclear development.

Iran, as always, insists that its nuclear program is meant for peaceful energy development. Israel and the U.S. think otherwise. The United Nations has been walking a line between condemning the program outright and expressing grave concern over Iran’s intentions once it has successfully enriched uranium past the point needed for mere nuclear energy.

In his speech at the U.N. General Assembly in September, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu famously (or infamously) took out a cartoon bomb and drew a physical red line at a mark labeled “90 percent,” declaring that this was Israel’s red line, as 90 percent enrichment is required to put together a nuclear weapon. Once Iran’s uranium was enriched to this point, Israel would take action, he threatened.

Iran isn’t quite at the 90 percent level yet, the IAEA said -- but it is at the 20 percent level, and has installed around 700 new centrifuges used for enriching uranium, up from 180 in February of this year. The IAEA reported that the new centrifuges, installed at the nuclear plant near Natanz in the center of the country, are not yet operational, but noted that Iran was also taking measures to thwart the IAEA’s inspection attempts. In particular, Iranian authorities spent months leveling and asphalting over a site that the IAEA wanted to inspect.