NewsIran considers shifting nuclear policy amidst rising tensions

Iran considers shifting nuclear policy amidst rising tensions

Is Iran building a nuclear bomb? There are considerations.
Is Iran building a nuclear bomb? There are considerations.
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29 June 2024 07:47

Some members of Iran's ruling elite are starting to depart from the longstanding stance that Tehran is developing its nuclear programme solely for peaceful purposes and are beginning to publicly consider the possibility of building an atomic bomb, reports "The New York Times".

Three high-ranking Iranian officials, part of the inner circle of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have publicly spoken in recent weeks about the possibility of changing Iran's doctrine of not possessing nuclear weapons. According to these officials, such a change could occur if the nation faced an existential threat, reports the New York Daily.

According to "The New York Times," these statements seem to be coordinated and reflect a debate taking place at the top echelons of Iranian power about whether it is time to "militarise the nuclear programme and build a bomb". The information in the article is based on data from four high-ranking Iranian sources, including diplomats and members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, as well as interviews with officials and experts from the USA, Europe, and Israel.

The newspaper emphasises that Iran currently possesses enough uranium enriched to 60%, to produce at least three bombs. This information is based on conservative estimates by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Experts note that Iran has recently expanded its nuclear research facility in Fordow and is installing modern centrifuges there, allowing it to double the amount of nuclear fuel within weeks or months. This facility is located underground at a depth that would require repeated, precise airstrikes using the heaviest bunker-busters in the U.S. arsenal to destroy.

Does Iran need a "much stronger deterrent"?

American officials are divided on whether Iran will decide to build a bomb or determine that it is safer and more effective to achieve the status of a "nuclear threshold state," approaching the construction of such a weapon but not crossing that line, writes "NYT".

According to information from American sources, there is no evidence that Iran is currently taking steps to militarily utilise its highly enriched uranium. On the other hand, the Israeli side reports that such efforts are indeed being undertaken under the guise of scientific research, adds the newspaper.

Experts comment that after the April escalation between Iran and Israel when both countries exchanged a series of missile strikes, the Iranian establishment most likely concluded that it needed a "much stronger deterrent".

"Even though it would take Iran more than a year to produce a nuclear weapon, the question arises whether American or Israeli intelligence services will detect this move and be able to stop it," notes "NYT".

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, during a Tuesday meeting in Washington with his American counterpart Lloyd Austin, stated that "time is running out" in the fight to prevent Iran from gaining access to nuclear weapons. He emphasised that Israel and the USA must cooperate to avert this threat. Gallant also called Iran the "greatest threat to the future of the world" and the Middle East region.

On Friday, Iran will hold a snap presidential election to choose a successor to Ebrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash in May.

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