HERZLIYA, Israel (JTA) — Iran has the capability to build a nuclear bomb in less than a year, Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said.
Steinitz, speaking about Iran’s nuclear program at the Herzliya Conference on Monday, urged world powers to demand that Iran dismantle its nuclear program as part of negotiations to lift international sanctions against Iran, repeating a message advanced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Lifting the international sanctions regime against Iran while allowing Iran to maintain the ability to build a nuclear bomb, Steinitz said, would be a “terrible deal.” He said Iran already is on the threshold of creating a nuclear bomb.
If Iran remains a nuclear threshold state after a deal is signed, Steinitz said, other Middle Eastern states will be encouraged to seek nuclear weapons and Iran will feel free to build a bomb in the future.
“What’s at stake isn’t just the fate of Israel in the Middle East,” Steinitz said at the Israeli policy conference hosted by the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, an Israeli university. “What is at stake is the fate of the entire world. Iran is a nuclear threshold state. It just hasn’t created the weapons yet.”
The United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China have been negotiating with Iran toward an agreement in which Iran would scale back its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions. Iran is widely believed to be producing a nuclear weapon, despite its claim that the program is civilian in nature.