Iran Goes All in for a Game of Nuclear Chicken

MIN READJul 11, 2019 | 09:00 GMT

A handout picture provided by the Iranian presidency on July 7, 2019, shows Iran's government spokesman Ali Rabiei, left, and Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi during a joint news conference in Tehran. Iran does not necessarily want to develop nuclear weapons -- but that could change.

(-/AFP/Getty Images)

Once again, the United States and Iran find themselves in a familiar position: a high-stakes game of chicken over the Islamic republic's nuclear program. Iran's announcement this week that it had begun enriching uranium to 5 percent, which is above the limits set by the 2015 nuclear accord with the United States and five other global powers, is likely just the start of Iran's move to (re)accelerate its civilian nuclear program. Among other measures, Tehran has said it could increase enrichment to 20 percent, which would drastically shorten the timetable for a nuclear breakout -- the moment when a country acquires enough fissile material to construct an atomic bomb. Although expanding its nuclear activities will only increase the probability of a military confrontation with the United States -- or, at the very least, a limited military strike on its nuclear facilities -- Iran has a clear objective in the long...

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