A truck leaving the Natanz nuclear research center in Iran in 2019


  • The Pentagon's top policy official told lawmakers that Iran has made major progress in its nuclear program
  • Colin Kahl said Iran's "breakout time" was down from 12 months in 2018
  • He said reentering the JCPOA nuclear deal could "put constraints" on Iran but is unlikely to happen

Iran could make enough material for a nuclear device in less than two weeks, the Pentagon's top policy official said Tuesday, down from the estimated one year it would have taken while the Iran nuclear deal was in effect.

During a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Ukraine, Colin Kahl, the under secretary for policy of the Department of Defense, discussed Iran's nuclear progress since the U.S. pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and said the country can now produce one bomb's worth of fissile material in "about 12 days."

"Iran's nuclear progress since we left the JCPOA has been remarkable," Kahl told lawmakers, ABC News reported.

"Back in 2018, when the previous administration decided to leave the JCPOA, it would have taken Iran about 12 months to produce one bomb's worth of fissile material. Now it would take about 12 days," he added of Iran's "breakout time."

Kahl believed the U.S. reentering the deal was better than other options because he said it could "put constraints" on Iran's nuclear program. But he acknowledged that is unlikely to happen after talks to revive the Iran nuclear deal stalled.

But Rebekah Koffler, a former Defense Intelligence Agency officer, told Fox News Digital that it would take a "much more drastic step" to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions.

"At this point, when Iran is this close to achieving an interim milestone in its nuclear program, the capability to produce fissile material for a bomb 12 days or so, it would take a much more drastic step to halt Iran's progress," Koffler said.

Iran has produced uranium particles enriched to up to 83.7% purity, Reuters reported, citing a confidential report by the U.N. nuclear watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) seen by the outlet. It means the country is very close to producing weapons-grade uranium with 90% purity.

The report stated that Iran's stock of uranium enriched to up to 60% had grown by 25.2 kilograms (56 pounds) to 87.5 kilograms (193 pounds) since the last quarterly report.

The IAEA said 42 kilograms (93 pounds) of uranium enriched to 60% purity is "the approximate amount of nuclear material for which the possibility of manufacturing a nuclear explosive device cannot be excluded."

The U.S.' attempts to negotiate a "stronger" deal with Iran stalled after a series of discussions produced little progress. In June 2022, following the ninth round of talks between the U.S. and Iran, a State Department spokesperson said "no progress was made."

The massive protests in Iran and the country's support of Russia's war in Ukraine also became stumbling blocks in the negotiations.

In October 2022, U.S. envoy to Iran Rob Malley said that nuclear talks with Iran are "not our focus right now," Axios reported.

In 2015, Iran forged a deal with the U.S., U.K., France, China, Russia, and Germany, agreeing to limit its sensitive nuclear activities and allow in international inspectors in exchange for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions.

After the deal, Iran resumed selling oil on international markets and gained access to more than $100 billion in frozen overseas assets.

But in May 2018, then-President Donald Trump abandoned JCPOA and reinstated all U.S. sanctions on Iran to force the country to negotiate a new agreement that would also cover its ballistic missile program.

Bushehr, Iran, Nuclear Power Plant, Aug. 21, 2010
A photo from the Iran International Photo Agency (IIPA) shows a reactor building at the Russian-built nuclear power plant in Bushehr, Iran, as the first fuel is loaded, Aug. 21, 2010. The country’s nuclear program has long been the subject of talks between the Islamic Republic and a group of six world powers. IIPA via Getty Images