UN atomic chief warns of increasingly ‘loose talk about nuclear weapons’ in Iran

Director General of International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, Rafael Mariano Grossi, top second right, attends a meeting with head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi, bottom left, in Tehran, Iran on August 25, 2020. (Atomic Energy Organization of Iran via AP)
Director General of International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, Rafael Mariano Grossi, top second right, attends a meeting with head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi, bottom left, in Tehran, Iran on August 25, 2020. (Atomic Energy Organization of Iran via AP)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The head of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog warns that Iran is “not entirely transparent” regarding its atomic program, particularly after an official who once led Tehran’s program announced the Islamic Republic has all the pieces for a weapon “in our hands.”

Speaking at the World Governments Summit in Dubai, just across the Persian Gulf, Rafael Mariano Grossi, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, alludes to remarks made this weekend by Ali Akbar Salehi. Grossi noted “an accumulation of complexities” in the wider Middle East amid Israel’s war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Iran is “presenting a face which is not entirely transparent when it comes to its nuclear activities. Of course this increases dangers,” Grossi says. “There’s loose talk about nuclear weapons more and more, including in Iran recently. A very high official said, in fact, we have everything, it’s disassembled. Well, please let me know what you have.”

Grossi does not identify the Iranian official who made the comment. However, in an Iranian state television show late Sunday, Salehi said that the country had all it needed to build a weapon.

“We have all the (pieces) of nuclear science and technology. Let me give an example,” Salehi said. “What does a car need? It needs a chassis, it needs an engine, it needs a steering wheel, it needs a gearbox. Have you made a gearbox? I say yes. An engine? But each one is for its own purpose.”

Salehi made a similar comment Saturday.

“We have it in our hands,” he said then.

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