Iran has enough enriched uranium for five nuclear weapons, should it decide to weaponize it and complete the detonation and delivery tasks for firing a weapon, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Thursday.
“Iran is not sufficing with one nuclear bomb,” he told his hosts during a visit to Greece. “It has already accumulated enough enriched uranium at the 20% and 60% levels for five nuclear bombs.”
“If Iran enriches to the 90% weaponized level, it would be a great error and the price would be heavy, and there would be consequences which could inflame the Middle East,” he added.
Gallant suggested that he was taking the opportunity to discuss Iran’s nuclear threats and regional terrorism in greater detail because there were recent efforts by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to perpetrate terrorist attacks against Jews in Greece.
Only top-level intelligence cooperation by Israel and Greece had prevented a disaster, Gallant said.
IAEA reports on Iran’s enriched uranium
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday said Iran could blackmail any US city if it acquired nuclear weapons.
“To have Iran being able to threaten every city in the United States with nuclear blackmail is a changing of history,” he told a visiting congressional bipartisan delegation.
“Iran is 50 North Koreas,” he said. “It is not merely a neighborhood bully like the dynasty that rules North Korea.”
“This is an ideological force that views us, Israel, as the small Satan and views you as the Great Satan,” Netanyahu told the delegation, led by Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
The delegation’s visit follows the visit earlier this week of Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who addressed the Knesset plenum and met with Netanyahu. They also spoke about the dangers of a nuclear Iran.
Netanyahu has pressed his allies, particularly the US, on Iran since he returned to power at the end of December. That has been made easier by Iran’s growing ties with Russia.As Israel and the West have more strongly aligned on Iran, Tehran has looked to bolster its regional ties.Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi met Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus on Wednesday. It was the first visit by an Iranian head of state since Syria’s civil war began in 2011, underlining their close ties as Syrian relations with Arab states thaw.With military and economic support from both Iran and Russia, Assad regained control of most of Syria from rebels who were backed by regional countries now seeking dialogue with him.Raisi’s visit comes as Iran and regional rival Saudi Arabia rebuild relations after years of tensions and as Arab states that shunned Assad, including Riyadh, rebuild ties with his government.The Raisi-Assad meeting should be of concern to the region and the world, US State Department deputy spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters in Washington on Wednesday.“These are two regimes that have continued to partake in malign, destabilizing activities – not just in their immediate neighbors but also in the region broadly,” he said.According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Tehran has accumulated enough enriched uranium at a high but non-weaponized level for four nuclear weapons. Gallant’s statement made it clear that Tehran’s build-up of its potential nuclear arsenal continues. A top US defense official recently said Iran could weaponize the uranium in less than two weeks.Nevertheless, experts debate whether it would take Iran’s weapons group six months or up to two years to complete the difficult detonation and delivery tasks required to activate a nuclear weapon. Part of the debate involves unclear intelligence on how far Iran had gone in developing the weapons group when it stopped some of those activities in 2003.The Mossad unveiled significant aspects of the weapons group when it seized Iran’s nuclear archives in 2018. That spy mission also established in Iranian documents that its goal had always been an arsenal of a minimum five nuclear weapons, which it is now closer than ever to achieving.In light of the increased threat from Tehran, Israel has sought to convince members of the IAEA Board of Governors, when it convenes in June, to request that the United Nations Security Council reimpose crippling international sanctions on Iran.
Reuters contributed to this report.