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‘Iran is only a stone’s throw away from building a nuclear bomb’ Tuesday, 14 December 2021

‘Iran is only a stone’s throw away from building a nuclear bomb’

"We need to be prepared militarily," he said, noting that the IDF has create a new directorate focusing on Iranian issues, including its "regional malign activities". noting also the

The official spoke at an online briefing for journalists organized by the European Israel Press Association (EIPA) along with two senior experts who gave their views on the possibility of returning to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the 2015 nuclear deal between the world powers and Iran and on how can Tehran still be prevented from acquiring the nuclear bomb.

Sima Shine, a former Mossad senior official and currently a Research Fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), Israel’s most influential think-tank, said that for the first time Iran has started to enrich to 60% which it never did before.

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"If Iran decides to enrich to military level beyond 90% it will have enough fissile material for a first nuclear device in three weeks time," she said.

“The further the program progresses, the greater the temptation is not to return to the nuclear agreement and reach the threshold of nuclear capability,” she said.

"Together with the fact that since February Iran doesn’t allow the IAEA inspectors to go into some sites we don’t know what happens in Iran with all this amount of enriched uranium. Are they using some secret place where they can enrich to 90%?"

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"The more the program is advancing without any price Iran is paying for that, the bigger is the temptation not to go back to the 2015 agreement and even to reach a threshold or a nuclear capability," Shine said.

"This is the reason why we hear not only the Israelis and the Americans but also the Brits and the French talking about the fact that we are losing time, that time is of the essence and something should be happening: either Iran decides to go back or they will be a break in the negotiations, even if no side will declare formally that there is no more diplomatic venue. Of course the US wants the diplomatic solution and they will let it open always. This is also part of the reason why Iran feels and believes that whenever they decide to go back, they can go back because the other side wants a political diplomatic solution," the Iran expert added.

From Israel’s point of view, Sima Shine stressed that "the perception of threat is very different of the perception of threat in Europe and of course in Washington".

"For Israel, it’s a question of urgency while the US thinks that there is still enough time for allowing the diplomatic channel to show everyone who is to blame for not going back to the agreement," she said.

Shine said that none of the scenarios currently under discussion in Vienna was good for Israel and that a return to the JCPOA was the least bad. But if that does not happen – which is the most likely scenario at the moment – a decision on whether to use military force will be on the table, she said.

“There are no good solutions. So I would suggest going back to the least bad scenario, which is a return to the JCPOA,” she said.

Bruno Tertrais, Deputy Director of the Foundation for Strategic Research (FRS), the main think-tank in France on international security issues, described the return of all parties to the JCPOA as unlikely. ‘’Anyone who thinks the JCPOA can be saved is deluding himself, because the military dimension of Iran’s nuclear program is very advanced. Iran is approaching weapons capability at lightning speed. The JCPOA is dead and cannot be revived,” he said.

He sees only a so-called “less-for-less” agreement as realistic. Among experts, this means the partial lifting of sanctions. In exchange, however, Iran would have to commit to scaling back or at least halting its uranium enrichment – something it has not done in the past year.

Anyone who thinks the JCPOA can be saved is deluding himself, because the military dimension of Iran’s nuclear program is very advanced. Iran is approaching weapons capability at lightning speed, he said. “The JCPOA is dead and cannot be revived.”

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