Background Briefing: April 13, 2021


With Months Before a Nuclear Breakout, Israel Again Sets Back Iran’s Path to the Bomb

We begin with questions surrounding the latest Israeli attack on Iran’s covert nuclear program which destroyed cascades of their newest centrifuges enriching uranium and could set back progress on producing fissile material for nine months. In response Iran has announced it will enrich uranium up to 60%, way above the 3.67% allowed under the JCPOA nuclear deal the Biden administration is trying to revive through indirect talks underway in Vienna. Mark Fitzpatrick, Associate Fellow and former Executive Director of the Washington-based America’s office of the International Institute for Strategic Studies where he heads the IISS Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Policy Program focusing on proliferation, nuclear security and disarmament. The former acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Non-Proliferation and author of The Iranian Nuclear Crisis: Avoiding worst-case outcomes, he joins us to discuss how Iran is a few months away from having enough fissile material for a bomb and what impact this latest sabotage will have on the talks in Vienna.


Can Deterrence Work Between Israel and Iran?

Then we examine further the undeclared war between Israel and Iran and the extent to which those working on nuclear enrichment in underground facilities in Iran must be disconcerted by Israel’s successful efforts to sabotage their work and set back their program which presumably involves local actors working against the regime. David Albright, the founder and president of the Institute for Science and International Security who was the first-non-governmental inspector of Iraq’s nuclear program whose latest book is Iran’s Perilous Pursuit of Nuclear Weapons, joins us to discuss whether since one bomb could all-but destroy Israel, and Israel in turn could wipe out every city in Iran, could deterrence work to prevent a nuclear exchange between the two countries?


A Call for More Research on a Possible Lab Leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology

Then finally we speak with Jamie Metzl, a senior fellow for Technology and National Security at the Atlantic Council who is among the authors of an open letter to the WHO organized by a group of scientist working virtually who are concerned not enough research has been done looking into the possibility of a lab leak at the BSL Level 4 Wuhan Institute of Virology which contains the largest collection of coronaviruses in the world.