The Israeli energy minister has said he predicts it will take Iran six months to reach a position where it has enough fissile material for a single nuclear weapon, while a small arsenal could be achieved in one to two years.
Israel’s forecast of six months is longer than that of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who suggested Iran might have enough fissile material for a single nuclear weapon within three to four months.
“In terms of enrichment, they [Iranians] are in a situation of breaking out in around half a year if they do everything required,” Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz told public broadcaster Kan on Tuesday. “As for nuclear weaponry, the range is around one or two years.”
Steinitz added that the Trump administration had been successful in “seriously damaging Iran’s nuclear project and entire force build-up.”
On Monday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh denied that Tehran had any interest in building a nuclear weapon, noting that the production and use of weapons of mass destruction are forbidden by religious law in Iran and under the fatwa issued by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.
“When an atomic bomb is detonated, it does not just kill enemies. Rather, it kills innocent people as well, and this goes against Islamic beliefs and the principles of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Khamenei’s decree reads.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was signed between Iran and six major global powers in 2015 and placed constraints on Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, broke down in 2018 as former president Donald Trump unilaterally pulled the US out of the pact.
In January 2020, Iran further hollowed out the remains of the nuclear pact by upping its uranium enrichment to 20 percent, which was much higher than the 3.67 percent level agreed upon in the 2015 pact, but still far below the 90 percent level that is considered weapons-grade.
Last Thursday, Iranian parliament speaker Mohammed Bagher Ghalibaf announced that by the end of the month Iran will have produced more than 17 kg of 20-percent-enriched uranium, considerably exceeding monthly targets.
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