Former International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Deputy Olli Heinonen told Israeli Army Radio on Wednesday that Iran could develop nuclear weapons as soon as six-to-eight months, the Times of Israel reports.
Heinonen, a fellow at the Foundation of Defense Democracies think-tank, argued that Iran hadn’t been following to its end of the bargain in the 2015 Iran nuclear deal because they have been “actually weaponizing uranium enrichment without making a weapon.”
However, Heinonen criticized President Donald Trump’s decision to exit from the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018, arguing that Iran could “withstand a lot of sanctions” while ramping up its enrichment.
Heinonen’s prediction comes after the Jerusalem Post reported on June 4 that two German state intelligence agencies concluded that Iran has been making efforts to illicitly obtain weapons of mass destruction.
Before Trump announced the United States’ exit from the Iran deal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed in a televised announcement that Iran had been concealing nuclear facilities from the IAEA. Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization head Ali Akbar Salehi admitted to Iranian television in January that Iran pretended to close its Arak reactor as stipulated under the deal, but kept the reactor operational in secret.
Trump told Britain’s ITV channel on Wednesday that “there’s always a chance” that war with Iran could happen, but he prefers to hold a dialogue with the regime instead. However, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a June 4 speech in Tehran that the regime is not interested in negotiating with the Trump administration.
“They want us to be losers and put our hands up as a sign of surrender, and because we don’t do that, they threaten us,” Khamenei said. “Resistance has a cost, but the cost of surrendering to the enemy is higher.”
Recently declassified U.S. intelligence reportedly determined that Iranian terror proxies like Hamas and Hezbollah have seen a shortfall in funding from Tehran due to the re-imposition of U.S. sanctions.