Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has claimed that Iran has enriched enough uranium for five nuclear bombs.
“Make no mistake: Iran will not be satisfied by a single nuclear bomb. So far, Iran has gained material enriched to 20% and 60% for five nuclear bombs,” Gallant told Greek Defense Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos during a visit to Athens on May 4.
Tehran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, though the UN’s atomic agency, Western intelligence agencies and nonproliferation experts say the Islamic Republic pursued a secret nuclear weapons program up until 2003.
In February, media reports said that inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) detected uranium particles enriched up to 84 percent. The IAEA did not deny the reports.
Uranium enriched at 84 percent is at nearly weapons-grade levels of 90 percent, meaning that any stockpile of that material could be used to produce an atomic bomb if Iran chooses.
“Iranian progress and enrichment to 90 percent would be a grave mistake on Iran’s part, and could ignite the region,” Gallant said in the Greek capital.
Under a landmark 2015 nuclear agreement, Tehran agreed to restrain its atomic program in return for relief from economic sanctions.
But former US President Donald Trump in 2018 abandoned the accord and started re-imposed crippling sanctions on Iran. Tehran has since been rolling back its commitments in violation of the deal.
In Athens, Gallant also reiterated that Israel “will not allow Iran to establish military power in Syria or to build a highway for the delivery of advanced weapons to Lebanon.”
“Over the past six months, Iran has sent aircraft to Syria on a weekly basis, delivering weapons to be used for terrorism,” he said. “The Syrian regime should be aware that the [Israeli military] will respond forcefully to any attacks launched from its territory.”
The Islamic Republic has been a major backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government since an uprising turned into a full-blown war in 2011.
Tehran has sent military advisers and thousands of Iran-backed fighters from Lebanon and elsewhere to fight on Assad's side, helping to turn the tide of the war in his favor.
Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria in recent years targeting Iranian forces, Syrian government positions and allied militias such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group.