A top Iranian official says his country possesses the chemical and technical abilities to produce a nuclear weapon, the Washington Free Beacon reported citing Farsi language remarks that were independently translated for the news site.
The translation quoted Ahmad Khatami, a senior member of Iran’s Assembly of Experts, which has close ties to the country’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei. He noted in recent remarks that the ability to possess a nuclear missile “is vital for Iran to confront the U.S. and its allies,” as noted in Farsi language comments made over the weekend.
“Having missile[s] and nuclear authority is vital for Iran to confront the U.S. and its allies,” Khatami was quoted as saying during which he also described the U.S. government as a thug.
Those comments come following recent threats by the supreme leader to top Trump administration personnel including the president himself, his national security adviser John Bolton, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the Free Beacon reported.
Experts on Iran and the Middle East who spoke to the news site said U.S. intelligence agencies should take Khatami’s claims about having the ability to produce nuclear weapons seriously and as such, ought to begin an investigation into several potential agents linked to the Iranian regime, including some who are known to operate in the United States.
In his comments, Khatami said that his country currently had no interest in building a nuclear weapon but that if it wanted to, Tehran could do so.
“Iran never has had the intention to build a nuclear bomb. Iran has the formula but does not want to use the weapons of mass destruction, but it is vital for Iran to have nuclear energy,” he said.
The claims by Khatami, which cannot be confirmed via open source materials, run counter to what the Obama administration told Americans when it signed the so-called “nuclear deal” with Tehran.
“Disarmament advocates consider it a major achievement of the Obama administration, averting a possible military conflict with Iran and a nuclear arms race in the Middle East,” The New York Times reported in October 2017 as President Donald Trump announced his intention to pull out of the deal.
“The agreement severely limited Iran’s ability to enrich uranium fuel and other activities necessary to make nuclear weapons. While Iran has repeatedly promised that it would never seek nuclear weapons, the agreement provided verifiable assurances for the first time,” the paper said.
In May 2018, the Washington Post‘s “fact-checker” gave the president “Four Pinocchios” — which means the paper believes the president was lying when he said that Iran could have a nuclear weapon within seven years, when portions of the agreement, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, expire.
At the time, a report by the Congressional Research Service noted that Iran likely already has the capacity to produce nuclear weapons.
Iran has nuclear programs that could potentially provide Tehran with the capability to produce both weapons-grade highly enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium — the two types of fissile material used in nuclear weapons,” according to the report, the Post noted. “Statements from the U.S. intelligence community indicate that Iran has the technological and industrial capacity to produce nuclear weapons at some point, but the U.S. government assesses that Tehran has not mastered all of the necessary technologies for building a nuclear weapon.”
Other experts also believe Iran could soon produce nuclear weapons.
“Left unchecked, in about a decade Iran will be closer to producing enough nuclear fuel for a bomb — a ‘breakout capability’ — than it was before the agreement was finalized in 2015,” David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security and a skeptic of the Iran deal, and Andrea Stricker, a senior policy analyst at that institute, wrote in an op-ed in January.
“The Europeans recognize the danger of allowing the sunset clauses to stand, yet they haven’t offered any serious solutions. They are, however, rebuilding business with the Islamic Republic. Although the nuclear deal placed restrictions on Tehran’s gas centrifuge uranium-enrichment program, the regime will be allowed in just six years to ramp up the centrifuge manufacturing process essential for the production of thousands of advanced centrifuges.”