A senior adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says the country is capable of making a nuclear weapon but a decision whether to do so has not yet been made.
Kamal Kharrazi’s comments to Al-Jazeera TV on July 17 came after U.S. President Joe Biden vowed on a trip to Israel and Saudi Arabia that Washington would prevent Iran from “acquiring a nuclear weapon.”
Iran has long denied it is attempting to acquire or develop nuclear weapons and claims its program is strictly for civilian purposes, although it has continued to test-fire military-style missiles.
Kharrazi’s comments were a rare mention that Tehran could have an interest in such arms.
“In a few days we were able to enrich uranium up to 60 percent and we can easily produce 90 percent enriched uranium…. Iran has the technical means to produce a nuclear bomb but there has been no decision by Iran to build one,” Kharrazi said.
Iran is enriching to up to 60 percent, far above a cap of 3.67 percent under the terms of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal Tehran signed with world powers. Uranium enriched to 90 percent is suitable for a nuclear bomb.
U.S. President Donald Trump in May 2018 pulled the United States out of the nuclear deal, which provided Tehran with sanctions relief in return for curbs on its nuclear program.
Following Trump’s move and the reimposition of crippling sanctions, Iran began violating the pact’s enriching restrictions.
On June 8, the International Atomic Energy Agency’s governing council overwhelmingly passed a resolution against Iran, criticizing Tehran’s lack of cooperation with the body.
On-and-off negotiations are being conducted by Iran and Western powers with an aim of reviving the 2015 pact, but an agreement has not yet been reached.
Bitter rival Israel has threatened to attack Iran’s nuclear sites if Tehran’s nuclear program is not contained through diplomacy.
“Any targeting of our security from neighboring countries will be met with direct response to these countries and Israel,” he said.