DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran has the technical capability to build a nuclear bomb but has no intention of doing so, the head of the country’s Atomic Energy Organization, Mohammad Eslami, said on Monday, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.
Eslami reiterated comments made in July by Kamal Kharazi, senior adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Kharazi’s remarks amounted to a rare suggestion that the Islamic Republic might be interested in nuclear weapons, which it has long denied sought.
“As Mr. Kharazi noted, Iran has the technical capability to build a nuclear bomb, but such a program is not on the agenda,” Eslami said.
Iran is already enriching uranium to fissile purity of up to 60%, far higher than the 3.67% limit set under Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Up to 90% enriched uranium is suitable for nuclear bombs.
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In 2018, former US President Donald Trump abandoned the nuclear deal, under which Iran curbs its uranium enrichment work, a possible route to nuclear weapons, in exchange for relief from international economic sanctions.
The top Iranian nuclear negotiator said on Sunday that Iran has responded to a proposal by European Union’s top diplomat Josep Borrell aimed at salvaging the nuclear deal, and wants a speedy conclusion to the talks.
Borrell said he had proposed a new draft text to revive the deal.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said, “After exchanging messages last week and reviewing the proposed texts, in the near future we will be able to reach conclusions about the timing of a new round of nuclear talks.” “
The broad outlines of a revived deal were essentially agreed upon in March after 11 months of indirect talks in Vienna between Tehran and the US President Joe Biden administration.
But negotiations broke down over obstacles, including Tehran’s demand that Washington should guarantee that no US president would abandon the deal, just as Trump did.
Biden cannot make that promise because the nuclear deal is a non-binding political understanding, not a legally binding treaty.
(Reporting by Dubai Newsroom Writing by Michael Georgie Editing by Mark Heinrich)
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