'We’re a screwdriver’s turn away from reaching the 90% purity,' Kharrazi says

That Iran is on nuclear threshold is not secret, says top Iranian politician

July 18, 2022 - 3:4

THRAN - In a veiled reference to the countries that have normalized ties with Israel, a veteran Iranian politician warns Tehran will respond in kind to any attack on its security from any neighboring country and a “direct response to Israel”.

“Targeting our security from neighboring countries will be met with a response to those countries and a direct response to Israel,” Kamal Kharrazi, the head of Iran’s Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, said in an interview with Al Jazeera that part of it was published on Sunday.

Kharrazi, however, said Israel is in a state of weakness and U.S. President Joe Biden’s support for the Zionist regime would fail to bring it back to the fore.

The comments by Kharrazi, Iran’s former foreign minister, came a day after Biden concluded his visit to Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Kharrazi said Iran has carried out extensive military drills to demonstrate its capability to hit targets deep inside Israel in the event “our vital and sensitive facilities are targeted.”

During the interview, Kharrazi also said Iran seeks regional talks with the participation of important countries such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, Qatar, and other states.

He noted that Qatar has made important proposals on holding dialogue among regional countries and that Tehran has expressed its full readiness in this regard.

Kharrazi also welcomed recent remarks by officials in Riyadh to extend a hand of friendship to Iran, saying Tehran is ready to enter into dialogue with Saudi Arabia to restore relations to normalcy.

Iran and Saudi Arabia are two important countries in the region and resolving their differences would lead to major changes in West Asia, the veteran politician remarked.

Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic relations with Iran in January 2016 after Iranian protesters, enraged by the Saudi execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, stormed its embassy in Tehran. The move was condemned by senior Iranian officials, including Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. However, Saudi Arabia cut ties with Iran.

“Iran has capability to build nuclear bomb but has no decision to do so"

Noting that Iran’s nuclear capabilities are undeniable, Kharrazi said, “It should be noted that Iran is on the nuclear threshold and this is not something secret.”

He added “Iran has the capability to build nuclear bomb but it has no decision” to do so.

Enriching uranium to 20 percent was “more difficult” but increasing it to 60 percent was done in 2-3 days.

Therefore, he said, it will not be difficult to enrich uranium to purity of 90 percent.

“We’re a screwdriver’s turn away from reaching the 90% purity,” Kharrazi remarked.

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khamenei has banned production of nuclear arms. 

The former foreign minister reiterated Iran’s long-held policy, saying nuclear weapon “contravenes” Iran’s religious “beliefs” and its "security exigencies".

However, he added, mastering the nuclear technology and having the capability to build nuclear arms is “deterrent”.

"Our missile program and our regional policies are non-negotiable"

Kharrazi also dismissed any possibility of talks about “our missile program and our regional policies,” saying any negotiation on the two subjects would mean submission to the enemy.

Kharrazi, a military spokesman during Iraq’s war against Iran in the 1980s, also raised questions why the West is selling so much advanced weaponry to certain Arab states, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

“European countries should say why they're selling so many arms to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and to Israel... while they are selling arms to these countries, Iran has the right to develop its own armaments, including missile technology,” chairman of the Strategic Council for Foreign Relations noted.

He added that Iran has every right to enhance its defense strategy and that there was no truth in accusations that it was “destabilizing the region”.

“There are many enemies and they have all kinds of different armaments,” said Kharrazi. “Those who have developed terrorist groups and have tried to topple existing governments… those are the [some] bodies who have destabilized the region.”

“We have tried to keep the status quo by fighting against terrorism in Iraq and Syria, which were defended by the help of Iran. Therefore, Iran has been a stabilizing factor, not the destabilizing factor,” he continued.

Iran proved the strongest force against terrorist groups, including Daesh. If it was not for Iran’s rapid reaction, Daesh would have captured Baghdad and Damascus.

Iran’s anti-terror commander lt. Gen. Qassem Soleimani was internationally famous for his war against terrorism.

"U.S. trying to materialize financial imperialism"

On the current relationship between Iran and the U.S. and whether he sees a potential for improved dealings, Kharrazi said this is in the hands of the U.S. policymakers.

“There is animosity between Iran and the United States,” said Kharrazi, Iran’s former ambassador to the United Nations. “They’re using all their instruments to put pressure on Iran.”

“They have to change their policies. They have to come up with a new policy. Unfortunately, the United States is trying to materialize financial imperialism. If, in the past, imperialism was dependent on arms and wars, today Americans are dependent on financial instruments,” Kharrazi remarked.

Regarding the indirect negotiations with the United States to revive the 2015 Iran deal, he said it is difficult to conduct a direct dialogue with Washington in light of a thick wall of mistrust due to hostile U.S. policies toward Iran.

He added that there are no guarantees that the U.S. would continue to honor the 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), if the agreement is resurrected, and “this prevents any possible agreement.”

Iran and the U.S. concluded two days of indirect talks, mediated by the European Union, in Doha, Qatar, late last month in an attempt to break the stalemate in reviving the JCPOA.

At the end of the talks, Iran and the EU, which plays a mediatory role, said they would keep in touch “about the continuation of the route and the next stage of the talks.”

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