Israeli Defense Officials: Iran Is Getting Closer to Nuclear Bomb

YERUSHALAYIM -
The interior of the Arak heavy water production facility in Arak, 223 miles southwest of Tehran, Iran. (AP Photo/Fars News Agancy, File)

Israeli defense officials claim that Iran has not increased the pace of its nuclear enrichment in recent months, but could still be only two years away from producing an atomic weapon, according to a report quoting unnamed senior officials.

The report estimates that Iran is continuing to enrich uranium at a 4% level, the same as when the coronavirus crisis hit earlier this year. The Walla news report added that Defense Minister Benny Gantz has been presented with an assessment that Iran is six months away from producing all the components of an atomic bomb, and two years away from assembling such a bomb.

The sources said that if Iran hastens its enrichment, Israel would have to “reconsider” its reaction to the crumbling of the 2015 nuclear deal, with “all options” on the table.

The officials noted that the Iranians have set themselves a clear goal: To take control of several airports in Syria in order to transport critical components for manufacturing of weapons, independent of the ruling power. The Israeli officials assess that this goal was significantly slowed down with the assassination of Qassem Soleimani.

The officials added that this matter is not being monitored fully by President Donald Trump’s administration, which is preoccupied with his reelection campaign. Therefore the intelligence information is not 100% clear. Still, Trump’s term in office was very positive toward Israel and included security cooperation at levels not seen for decades, they said, with some hinting that a change of power in Washington would set back Israel in its struggle against Iran.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported earlier this month that Iran was breaching the pact, and has repeatedly blocked inspections at two sites where nuclear activity may have occurred in the past. The Vienna-based agency noted “with serious concern that, for over four months, Iran has denied access to the agency … to two locations.”

Iran insisted that it was ready to resolve any issues with the U.N. nuclear watchdog, and expressed “disappointment” over the IAEA’s report.

Iran argues that the requests for access are based on “fabricated information,” accusing the United States and Israel of trying to “exert pressure on the agency.”

Meanwhile, Israel claims that its intelligence services have new information on Iran’s alleged previous nuclear weapons program.

The IAEA has said that its access requests were based on “concrete information” that had been validated. The report is expected to be discussed at a meeting of the agency’s Board of Governors starting Monday, as well as the IAEA warning that Iran’s enriched uranium stockpile is now almost eight times the limit set in the nuclear deal the country signed with world powers in 2015. Iran began openly violating restrictions of the 2015 deal in what it claims is retaliation for U.S. withdrawal from the accord in 2018 and its re-imposition of sanctions.