‘We can produce a nuclear bomb but have no intention of doing so,’ says Iran’s atomic energy chief
Tehran sends threatening messages in an attempt to renew diplomatic efforts to reach a nuclear deal
Iran has the technical capability to produce a nuclear bomb but has no intention of doing so, said the head of the Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI) of Iran on Monday.
AEOI chief Mohammad Eslami echoed a statement made in July by Kamal Kharrazi, a senior advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
“As Mr. Kharrazi mentioned, Iran has the technical ability to build an atomic bomb, but such a program is not on the agenda,” Eslami said, amid an apparent stalemate in negotiations over a nuclear deal between Tehran and other world powers.
Last week, the European Union put a final offer on the table, which it deemed as the “best possible feasible deal” and called on Iran to decide. In response, Iran’s lead nuclear negotiator said that Tehran would like to share its own ideas about how to conclude the nuclear talks.
“After exchanging messages last week and reviewing the proposed texts, there is a possibility that, in the near future, we will be able to reach a conclusion about the timing of a new round of nuclear negotiations,” said Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nasser Kanaani.
Iran’s diplomatic message fell against the backdrop of a practical threat. A social media account associated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps announced on Saturday that Tehran will begin building nuclear bombs in the shortest possible time “if the U.S. or the Zionist regime make any stupid mistakes.”
Such a “mistake,” according to a report by the London-based Iran International news outlet, could be an attack on the nuclear facilities in Natanz.
“Iran can immediately return to [the] Emad project and build an atomic bomb if Natanz facilities are attacked,” the message stated.
The Emad (“pillar”) is a long-range ballistic missile designed to evade missile defense systems with a nuclear warhead able to hit its target with high accuracy.
The social media message was posted with a short video, which read, “When Will Iran’s Sleeping Nuclear Warheads Awaken.”
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid alluded to Israel’s alleged nuclear program on Monday during a farewell ceremony for the Israel Atomic Energy Commission chief.
In an indirect response to Iran’s threatening message, Lapid hailed Israel’s operational, defensive and offensive capabilities, that are “often referred to by foreign media as ‘other capabilities.’”
“These other capabilities keep us alive and will continue doing so, as long as our children are here with us,” Lapid said.
Despite numerous reports over the years about Israel’s nuclear capacity, the Jewish state neither confirms nor denies having atomic weapons.
Israel’s former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said during the IAEC ceremony that “the Iranians are moving forward but the Israeli system has been working full throttle over the past year.”
“Last year we took decisions to prepare for the Iranian nuclear threat. We have directed a massive amount of resources to close the gaps that had been making us lose sleep,” Bennett said.
Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.