In advance of important talks with Iran about its nuclear program on 13 [or 14?] April [apparently in Istanbul, after all] Israeli Maj-Gen (res) Amos Gilad said in a briefing in Jerusalem this week that Iran, today, has ability to put together a nuclear weapon [but probably won’t].
Iran does “have the know-how to assemble a nuclear warhead, if they want to do it … it depends on their decision”, he said.
Gilad spoke on Tuesday 2 April to diplomats, military attaches, ranking UNTSO “blue beret” military observers, and journalists at a briefing at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs [JCPA].
He suggested in his talk that he is enjoying some sort of retirement [at least, from direct responsibility for intelligence, he implied] — but he is still described as the Israeli Ministry of Defense’s Director of Policy and Political-Military Affairs.
“I agree there’s no existential threat to Israel [now], but if Iran develops nuclear weapons, that could change. It [the threat to Israel from Iran] becomes serious”, Gilad said.
About Iran’s leadership, Gilad said, “We need to be humble. They are not stupid… Consider your enemy as more intelligent than you. If Israel tells them something, they will ignore it — unless they come to the same conclusion themselves. And [Iran knows] there is a consensus now”.
He said, “the moment they feel immune, they will [might] cross the Rubicon”. But, he noted, even if they do the opposite, and pull back from the brink, “they will keep the capability”.
Gilad spoke on Tuesday.
By Friday [allowing time for translations, reaction, and reportage], there appeared to be confirmation of this from Iran itself.
The Associated Press published a headline-making story, datelined Tehran, picked up by media from around the world, reporting that prominent Iranian parliamentarian Gholamreza Mesbahi Moghadam “said Iran can easily produce the highly enriched uranium that is used to build atomic bombs but it is not Tehran’s policy to go that route”. According to AP, Moghadam told icana.ir that “There is a possibility for Iran to easily achieve more than 90 (percent) enrichment”. One place this report was published was here.
But, the Iranian politician said more than that. He said that Iran can also actually produce a nuclear weapon — and that takes more than just highly-enriched uranium: “‘Iran has the scientific and technological capability to produce (a) nuclear weapon, but will never choose this path’, Moghadam told the parliament’s news website, icana.ir, late Friday”.
The Washington Post’s David Ignatius [@IgnatiusPost on Twitter] reported that Obama sent message to Iran via Turkey last week [but “delicate issue” of enrichment not clear]. Ignatius’ WPost story [see below] is posted here.
Amos Gilad [IDF Maj-Gen res] said Iran has 5,5 tons of Lightly Enriched Uranium and is “dealing with” 20% enrichment [warheads need higher, over 90% enrichment].
Iran’s stock of Lightly Enriched Uranium at 3-4% is the degree used to run civilian nuclear power plants, as Iran says it’s preparing to do.
It seems that this Iranian claim now being accepted … or, at least, it is not considered as alarming as it previously was, in recent years.
But 20% enrichment of uranium [Iran has experimented with at least two different technologies to arrive at this level] is another matter. Iran has explained that its 20% enriched uranium is for medical usage [in a research reactor that will produce medical isotopes to treat cancer, etc.]
Amos Gilad [IDF Maj-Gen res] furrowed his brow and shook his head, when he spoke about Iran’s uranium enrichment program…
Apparently, 20% enrichment is too much — perhaps because once there’s capability to enrich uranium to 20% level, it becomes possible to do more or less the same to arrive at military grade +90%.