Iran is lying about its nuclear work and is trying to obtain an “arsenal of nuclear bombs,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday, following a meeting with the former deputy head of the UN’s atomic agency at his Jerusalem office.
Olli Heinonen, who previously held a senior position at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and now serves as a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, warned Wednesday that Iran’s nuclear scientists — who he described as “the best of the best” — could produce enough fissile material for an atomic bomb in six to eight months.
Netanyahu said, “It’s very clear Iran is lying. Iran is continuing to work toward an arsenal of nuclear bombs, and we’re committed to stop it.” He praised Heinonen for his “forthright analysis” and “clear-cut conclusion.”
The nuclear scientist thanked Israel for revealing information about Iran’s secret nuclear archive last year. “Thank you for this brave action of taking them out [the nuclear archive documents] because this gives the material for the international community to think about and it’s a good place on how to talk with the Iranians, how to stop it,” he said.
Heinonen said at a time of the extraction that some of the information in the Israeli intelligence trove was already known, but there was “also new information.” He characterized the intelligence as a “jackpot.”
Documents in the Iranian nuclear archive showed that Iran built an underground facility, which was likely used for the development of nuclear warheads.
The files Israel recovered didn’t document all the equipment in the facility or the expected annual production of weapons-grade uranium the facility could produce. However, Heinonen and a team of experts in nuclear weapons technology estimated that the facility could produce enough enriched uranium for 2.5 to 3.3 nuclear weapons annually.
According to them, the site has never been inspected, nor has Iran been known to have discussed it with the IAEA.
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