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Iran has for the first time spoken openly about its potential to make a nuclear weapon, and officials discussed the ability to make such a weapon “at will.”
“Iran has the technical ability to make an atomic bomb, but there is no such plan on the agenda,” Mohammad Eslami, head of Iran’s civilian nuclear agency, said in a report Monday.
Eslami also referred to comments made by Kamal Kharrazi, an adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who in mid-July told Al Jazeera that the country was able to enrich uranium “up to 60%” but could “easily produce 90% enriched uranium,” the level at which it is considered weapons-grade.
Eslami’s agency later walked back the comment, saying he “misunderstood and misjudged,” taken by some as a sign that Iran’s government didn’t want him to be so specific with his language.
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Some experts believe that Eslami did not misspeak and that recent statements from Iranian officials serve to test the waters on the international response to the possibility of making a final dash to obtain a nuclear weapon.
“Obviously, the repeated Iranian references to the possibility of producing nuclear weapons reflects an intention to actually produce them,” Yossi Kupperwasser, former brigadier general and head of the IDF Intelligence Assessment Division and a senior researcher at the IDSF, told Fox News Digital.
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“The only question is how much time will the Iranians need. Whereas the time needed to produce fissile material is very short, it might take a bit longer to turn the fissile material into a bomb but not as long as some people think. Less than two years.”
“Obviously, no one is second-guessing the intentions of the Iranians: Their purpose is and has always been to produce nuclear weapons, and what we see now is that the Iranians are finally admitting it, not that we ever needed their admission in order to establish that this was their real intent,” Kupperwasser added. “We have known it for a long time, and the nuclear archives that the Israeli Mossad exposed proved that, especially with the letter sent to the late Fakhrizadeh, ordering him to produce five bombs back in the early 2000s.
“These Iranian statements just make it easier for all involved to know the true intent of the Iranians.”
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Officials from Iran, the U.S. and the European Union will meet Thursday in Vienna as a last-ditch effort to revive the nuclear deal, but analysts warn that Iranian officials may deem the benefits of a nuclear weapon far outweigh any sanctions imposed by other nations.
“Iran has a glide path to the bomb. That has been quite clear for some time now,” Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Fox News Digital.
“The crescendo of threats alleging that Iran faces no technical impediment to nuclear weapons production is evidence of Iran’s strategy of advancing under fire. This has been just as true with the nuclear program as it has been with the missile program.”
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As of the last public International Atomic Energy Agency count, Iran has a stockpile of some 3,800 kilograms (8,370 pounds) of enriched uranium.
Iranian diplomats for years have pointed to Khamenei’s preachings as a binding fatwa, or religious edict, that Iran wouldn’t build an atomic bomb.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.