An Iranian news agency reported that the country’s atomic energy chief saying the country has the ability to build a nuclear weapon, but has no plan to. Mohammad Eslami’s comments come after similar recent statement by a senior Iranian adviser.
Sources say such claims by top officials are rare and may intensify debate over the country’s nuclear programme. Iran has advanced its nuclear activities since a deal limiting them petered out. The 2015 agreement began to fall apart when the US pulled the plug and reinstated crippling economic sanctions.
The BBC reported that Iran has repeatedly claimed its nuclear programme is for purely peaceful purposes but Western powers and the global nuclear watchdog say they are not convinced. Western officials have warned time is running out to restore the deal before Iran’s programme reaches such a point where it cannot be reversed.
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps owned Fars news agency reported that Mr Eslami reiterated comments made by the senior adviser, Kamal Kharrazi. “As Mr Kharrazi mentioned, Iran has the technical ability to build an atomic bomb, but such a programme is not on the agenda,” Mr Eslami insisted.
In his own remarks made to Al Jazeera news channel on 17 July, Mr Kharrazi had said: “Iran has the technical means to produce a nuclear bomb but there has been no decision by Iran to build one.”
There have been growing global concerns over the time Iran will take to put together enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb. In June, the head of the global atomic energy agency, Rafael Grossi, said Iran could acquire such a quantity in a matter of weeks. The US had pegged the required time at about a year.
International Atomic Energy Agency in a report claimed that Iran had 43.1kg (95lb) of uranium enriched to 60% purity. About 25kg (55lb) of uranium enriched to 90% is needed for a nuclear weapon.