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Eyewitness footage shows explosion at military industry factory in Isfahan, Iran.

Reuters

What We're Watching: Iran weapons depot targeted, fierce battles in eastern Ukraine, Czechs back pro-EU president, McCarthy-Biden debt limit meeting

What we know about the Isfahan attack

In what’s broadly believed to have been an Israeli attack, three drones hit an Iranian ammunition factory in the central city of Isfahan, Iran, on Saturday night. Iranian state media said damage to the site was “minor,” but phone footage suggests that the compound – used to produce advanced weapons and home to its Nuclear Fuel Research and Production Center – took a serious blow. An oil refinery in the country's northwest also broke out in flames on Saturday, though the cause remains unknown. Then, on Sunday night, a weapons convoy traveling from Syria to Iraq was also targeted by airstrikes. US reports attributed the Isfahan attack to Israel – which has in the past targeted nuclear sites in Natanz and hit Iranian convoys transporting weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Indeed, this comes after Russia purchased hundreds of Iranian-made “suicide drones,” which it has used to pummel Ukrainian cities. While the deepening military alliance between Iran and Russia is a growing concern for Washington, it’s unclear if Uncle Sam played a role in the Isfahan hit – or whether Israel, which has to date refused to deliver heavy arms to Kyiv, agreed to carry out this attack in part to frustrate Iranian drone deliveries to the Russians. The escalation comes just days after CIA Director William Burns flew to Israel for meetings with his Israeli counterparts – and as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken heads to Israel and the West Bank this week. Crucially, it highlights the increasing overlap between Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and the longtime shadow war between Iran and Israel.

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GZERO World

Hard Numbers: Iran’s uranium supplies, ex-cops charged in Memphis, US recession fears, the rise of traveling eggs

70: Iran now has enough enriched uranium to build nukes, according to International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi. While the Islamic Republic insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, it reportedly has 70 kilograms (155 pounds) of uranium enriched at 60% – enough to build several nuclear weapons.

Watch on GZERO World — Grossi explains how close Iran is to getting the bomb.

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- YouTube

Iran getting the bomb? Not as close as you might think

The 2015 Iran nuclear deal is pretty much dead in the water right now. And perhaps the train has already left the station because Tehran is too close to enriching enough uranium to get the bomb.

So, is it too late?

“Having the nuclear material does not mean [that] automatically that you have a nuclear weapon,” International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi tells Ian Bremmer on GZERO World. Still, Grossi would like more cooperation from the Iranians.

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Podcast: Iran on the verge: why you don’t want the nuclear deal to fail, according to Iran expert Ali Vaez

Listen: Renewing the Iran nuclear deal is more urgent than ever for the Biden administration. Iran is closer to getting the bomb, with the breakout time to enrich enough uranium for a single nuclear weapon reportedly less than two weeks. On the GZERO World podcast, Ian Bremmer speaks to Ali Vaez, Iran project director at the International Crisis Group, who says the odds of reaching an agreement in the short term are 50/50.

There are domestic political risks for Biden either way, but a new deal would significantly delay Iran’s ability to enrich enough uranium for a weapon. It's also now clear that the real effect of pulling out of the deal in 2018 was that it boosted Iran's nuclear program. Vaez also digs into Israel's strategic interest in a deal, which they have long opposed, and Russia's role in the negotiations with Iran.

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Annie Gugliotta & Jess Frampton

Iran’s nuclear program runs hotter

Talks between Iran’s government and world powers over the future of Iran’s nuclear program continue. The US and Iran are still not communicating directly; Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia are shuttling between them.

The good news is that they’re all still talking. The bad news is that, after eight rounds of negotiations, the main players haven’t agreed on anything that would constitute a breakthrough.

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