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Israel: Iran ‘10 Weeks Away’ from Acquiring Enough Material for Nuke

Iranian nuclear facility for converting uranium (AP Photo)
Iranian nuclear facility for converting uranium (AP Photo)

JERUSALEM, Israel – Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz warns that Iran is only 10 weeks away from acquiring enough material to make a nuclear bomb.

“Iran has violated all of the guidelines set in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JPCOA) and is only around 10 weeks away from acquiring weapons-grade materials necessary for a nuclear weapon,” Gantz told ambassadors from countries on the UN Security Council during a briefing at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem on Wednesday.

“Now is the time for deeds – words are not enough,” he added. “It is time for diplomatic, economic and even military deeds.”

In 2015, Iran signed the JCPOA with the US, Russia, China, Germany, France and Britain. It severely restricted Iran’s ability to enrich uranium in exchange for sanctions relief, but it allowed Tehran to continue pursuing its nuclear program for civilian purposes. Iran insists it is does not want to develop a nuclear bomb.

President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of the deal in 2018, criticizing clauses within it that would allow sanctions of Iran to be gradually lifted. Israel opposes the deal and says it fails to address Iran’s threat to the region – like its ballistic missiles and militant proxies.  

President Joe Biden wants to salvage the agreement to reign in Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but negotiations in Vienna to restore the JCPOA have been suspended until Iran’s new hardline president Ebrahim Raisi forms a new government later this month.

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Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, have raised concerns that Iran is quickly advancing its nuclear program while talks to restore the JCPOA are stalled, The Jerusalem Post reports.

On Thursday, Gantz threatened to strike Iran days after accusing the country of being behind a deadly attack on an Israeli-linked oil tanker off the coast of Oman.

Gantz is urging the international community to punish Iran for the attack on the Mercer Street ship, which killed two people – a British and a Romanian national.

When asked by the Ynet news website if Israel is prepared to attack Iran, Gantz replied with a simple, “yes.”

“We are at a point where we need to take military action against Iran," he added "The world needs to take action against Iran now.”

Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh called Gantz's threat “another brazen violation of Int'l law" and “malign behavior.”

“We state this clearly: ANY foolish act against Iran will be met with a DECISIVE response. Don’t test us,” he tweeted.

Since 2019, Iran and Israel have been adversaries in a shadow war that has seen both Iranian and western-linked ships attacked in Middle Easter waterways. 

The latest incident occurred earlier this week, when hijackers briefly seized an asphalt tanker off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. The hijackers released the ship and abandoned it on Wednesday.

No one claimed responsibility for the hijacking, but the United States Central Command (CENTCOM) blamed Iran.

“We are troubled by the temporary forcible seizure of the M/V Asphalt Princess by Iranian gunmen,” U.S. Air Force Maj Nicole Ferrara, a CENTCOM spokesman, told AP. "We are looking into the incident, but do not have an understanding of what the Iranians were doing at this time, or why they would impede the transit of this legitimate commercial vessel.”

Iran has denied involvement in the attack on Mercer Street and Asphalt princess.

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