An advisor to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Sunday that Tehran has the “technical” means to build a nuclear weapon but stressed the Islamic Republic still hasn’t decided to do so.
Iran has never attempted to enrich uranium at the 90% level needed for weapons-grade, but Kamal Kharrazi, the head of Iran’s Strategic Foreign Relations Council, said Tehran could do so easily.
“In a few days we were able to enrich uranium up to 60% and we can easily produce 90% enriched uranium … Iran has the technical means to produce a nuclear bomb but there has been no decision by Iran to build one,” Kharrazi told Al Jazeera.
The comments come as talks between the US and Iran to revive the Iran nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, are stalled. A US return to the JCPOA would limit Iran’s uranium enrichment to 3.67%, but President Biden has taken a hardline and refuses to lift enough sanctions to revive the accord.
Kharrazi’s comments could be an effort to bring the US back to the negotiating table, although he said that the fact that the US can’t guarantee it will stay in the JCPOA “ruins” any chance for a deal.
During his trip to the Middle East, President Biden signed a joint declaration with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid against Iran. The declaration said that the US would use all of its “national power” to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
Even though Biden hasn’t made much effort to revive the JCPOA, he told Lapid that he prefers diplomacy. Lapid said there must be a “credible” military threat to stop Iran from making a nuclear weapon, something he reiterated on Sunday.
“We want the basis [for world power’s negotiations with Iran] to be a credible military threat,” Lapid said at a closed-door cabinet meeting, according to Israel’s Channel 13. “We didn’t necessarily agree on this with the Americans.”
While Israel is constantly claiming Iran is racing to develop a bomb, the Iranian government has maintained a policy against developing weapons of mass destruction for decades, and there’s still no indication that’s changed. Besides trying to preserve the JCPOA, Iran is also a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which Israel refuses to sign due to its secret nuclear weapons program.