Iran already possesses the means to make as many as five nuclear bombs, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant claimed on Thursday during a visit to Athens. Tehran would not stop at creating just one nuclear weapon, the minister insisted, adding that such a development would have grave consequences for the entire Middle East.
“Make no mistake — Iran will not be satisfied by a single nuclear bomb. So far, Iran has gained material enriched to 20% and 60% for five nuclear bombs,” Gallant told his Greek counterpart, Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, the Times of Israel reported.
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He noted, however, that uranium needs to be enriched to at least 90% purity to make a nuclear weapon. “Iranian progress, and enrichment to 90%, would be a grave mistake on Iran’s part, and could ignite the region,” the defense minister warned.
In March, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley predicted that Tehran could produce enough nuclear material for a bomb within weeks. The US general admitted, however, that the Islamic Republic would still need “several months” to make it into a bomb.
According to Milley, Washington “remains committed as a matter of policy that Iran will not have a fielded nuclear weapon.” His choice of words sparked concerns in West Jerusalem, as senior Israeli officials questioned whether the US would tolerate the Iranian “nuclear weapons program” as long as no nuclear bomb was mounted on a missile or another delivery system.
The US general clarified his earlier remarks by removing the word “fielded.” Tehran has itself repeatedly denied seeking a nuclear weapon and has argued that its nuclear program remains purely peaceful.
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It has still been gradually increasing the level of uranium enrichment beyond the limits set by the 2015 accord it reached with world powers. Iran began doing so after then-US president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the deal back in 2018.
Attempts to revive the deal under US President Joe Biden have so far been unsuccessful. Tehran reportedly rejected Washington’s latest attempt to strike a deal that would limit Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the sanctions freeze.
Tensions between Tehran and West Jerusalem have been running high recently. In mid-April, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi warned that any hostile move from Israel would “lead to the destruction of Haifa and Tel Aviv.”
On Thursday, Gallant claimed that “Iran supports, finances, trains and equips terror groups across the Middle East and around the world,” and accused it of “sponsoring” attacks on Israel from Lebanon, Gaza, and Syria.