Iran ‘is six months away from having NUCLEAR WEAPONS’ and ‘Israelis need to be worried’, warns former deputy director general of International Atomic Energy Agency
- Olli Heinonen, ex-head of IAEA’s security team, warned of Iran’s nuke ambitions
- Heinonen said Iran is between six and eight months away from nuclear weapons
- He said Israel and Gulf states need to prepare to face nuclear threat from Tehran
- Warning comes after Trump administration backed out of the Iran nuclear deal, prompting Tehran to threaten that it would restart its nuclear programme
Olli Heinonen, former deputy chief of the IAEA, said Israel and other Gulf states need to be ready to combat a nuclear-armed Iran within six to eight months
The former deputy head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog has warned that Iran is within months of developing a nuclear weapon.
Olli Heinonen, who led the International Atomic Energy Agency’s security team and served as its deputy director general, said Tehran could arm itself with nukes in six to eight months.
Heinonen added Israel and other Gulf states need to start preparing to face the threat, while criticising the IAEA’s handling of the situation.
Heinonen made his remarks in an interview with Israel’s Army Radio, a segment of which was published by Israel National News on Wednesday.
‘Israelis need to be worried, and the Gulf states also have reason for concern,’ he said. ‘How will you be able to ensure your security if Iran achieves nuclear abilities?’
Tehran has threatened to restart its nuclear programme after the Trump administration backed out of the nuclear deal signed with the Obama White House.
Iran has given a deadline of July 7 for the remaining partners to the deal – UK, France, China, Russia and Germany – to renegotiate terms, or else it will stop complying.
Iran has threatened to back out of a deal signed in 2015 that was designed to prevent it acquiring nuclear weapons after America withdrew (Iranian rocket launch, file image)
Heinonen’s warning comes against a backdrop of heightened tensions in the Middle East, which saw Ian show off its stockpile of missiles in a video last week
The warning comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and the US, and after Iran broadcast footage on state TV showing an underground bunker packed with conventional missiles.
The clip shows a long tunnel deep under the earth stuffed full of weapons, trucks and parts appearing to belong to the Qiam-1 ballistic missile system.
Outside the grand entrance to the bunker hang huge posters of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani.
As the footage was broadcast, Saudi Arabia accused Iran of threatening regional stability at a summit of Muslim countries.
But a foreign ministry spokesman hit back, saying the accusations were part of an ongoing program against Iran being pursued by the US and Israel.
Saudi Arabia has ‘continued to sow division between Islamic countries and in the region, which is the wish of the Zionist regime,’ foreign ministry spokesman Seyed Abbas Mousavi said.
The White House sent the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier strike group and bombers to counter Tehran after picking up what it called a ‘credible threat’
A B-52H Stratofortress assigned to the 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron is seen through night vision coming in for a landing at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar earlier this month
Saudi pointed to bomb attacks on four oil tankers, which the US has said were carried out with Iran’s blessing, and drone attacks on pipelines by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, as evidence of Tehran’s threat.
Iran has denied being involved in the attacks.
US President Donald Trump warned that Tehran would ‘suffer greatly’ if it enraged Washington, predicting a ‘bad problem for Iran if something happens’.
Following the attacks, the US said it had detected a ‘credible threat’ by Iran and deployed an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf, raising fears of a direct conflict.
Relations further soured when Supreme Leader Khamenei said his country would not negotiate on issues related to its military capabilities.
During a meeting with university professors, Khamenei said: ‘Negotiations on defensive issues means that we give up our defensive capabilities.’
He said negotiating with the US would bring nothing but harm.
However, he did say Iran is not looking to acquire nuclear weapons ‘not because of the sanctions or America,’ but because nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islamic Sharia law.
During a meeting with university professors, Supreme Leader Khamenei said ‘Negotiations on defensive issues means that we give up our defensive capabilities’
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