Iran is “closer than ever” to the bomb, and completing it would be “easier than putting in a contact lens,” a senior Iranian official was quoted saying on Thursday.
The claim by Hassan Karimpour, an adviser to Iran’s Quds Force commander Qassem Suleimani, was reported Thursday in Iranian media, and quoted on the BBC’s Persian language website and Israel’s Hebrew-language Channel 2 TV.
Finishing a nuclear bomb would be “easy to do, as soon as the spiritual ban on nuclear weapons were lifted,” Channel 2 quoted Karimpour as saying.
The Iranian regime has repeatedly vowed that it is not seeking a nuclear weapon, and spiritual leader Ali Khamenei has issued fatwas forbidding nuclear weapons.
According to Fars news, Karimpour also said Iran has 14 missile depots, buried between 30 and 500 meters underground, equipped with automatic launchers, and that any country that dared to attack Iran would be riddled with large numbers of missiles fired from these depots.
Israel and others in the West believe Iran has been pursuing a rogue nuclear weapons program, however, and the US-led P5+1 world powers signed a deal with Iran in July intended to curb the program, in exchange for sanctions relief. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the deal as a “historic mistake” that would pave Iran’s path to the bomb, and challenged US President Barack Obama’s handling of the issue in a speech to Congress in March.
A former Iranian president reportedly admitted last month that the country’s nuclear program was started with the intent of building a nuclear weapon. The reported comments by Hashemi Rafsanjani to the state-run IRNA news agency marked the first time a top Iranian official — current or former — had said the country sought a nuclear weapon.
Earlier on Thursday, the head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog said he could not guarantee that everything Iran is doing is peaceful, even as Tehran takes steps to reduce its nuclear activities under the July deal. International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano spoke Thursday to the IAEA’s 35-nation board.
Amano said he is “not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran,” and thus cannot conclude that “all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.”