A top Iranian lawmaker and cleric said that the country’s uranium enrichment program could allow it to build a nuclear weapon "in two weeks" in order to "put down Israel," according to multiple reports in the Farsi language press.
Iranian lawmaker and cleric Muhammad Nabavian said on Friday that Iran would be able to build a nuclear bomb in "two weeks" if it gets "access to 270 kilograms of 20 percent [enriched uranium], 10 tons of 5 percent, and 20 thousand centrifuges," according to reports on Iran’s Radio Farda and in Fararu.
"We are not looking for a nuclear bomb, but having a nuclear bomb is necessary to put down Israel," Nabavian said, according to an independent translation of his remarks provided to the Washington Free Beacon.
Nabavian went on to claim that President Barack Obama had courted Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in the lead up to nuclear negotiations with the West last year.
Nabavian said Rouhani revealed in a private meeting that the U.S. president reached out to his Iranian counterpart on at least five separate occasions prior to Rouhani’s visit last year to New York City.
Rouhani ultimately refused to meet with Obama at the time despite the private overtures.
Iran's parliament on Sunday reportedly approved and sent to Rouhani a bill demanding that Tehran enrich uranium up to 60 percent, levels just shy of those needed to fuel a nuclear weapon.
Russia’s ties with Tehran have improved significantly since November’s interim nuclear deal aimed at halting portions of Iran’s uranium enrichment program, according to Nabavian.
"Considering tough sanctions on Iranian banks, since last summer the whole banks throughout the world slammed their doors on us and we were unable to transfer even one single penny," he said. "Even if we could sell 2.7 million barrels [of oil] per day how we could transfer the money?"
"Only recently, [Russian leader] Vladimir Putin sent the Russian central bank chief to Iran in order to alleviate money transfers, China also recently released part of our blocked money, U.S. $10 billion."
With reports circulating that the interim nuclear deal is set to finally be enacted on Jan. 20, Nabavian confirmed that negotiations are about "90 percent" complete.
"Our negotiation with the U.S. has developed swiftly. We reached to 90 percent agreement," Nabavian said, citing recent conversations he had with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi.
Nabavian claimed that Araqchi overheard Secretary of State John Kerry mocking Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a recent closed door meeting with his fellow nuclear negotiators.
"At the end of the negotiation, [lead U.S. negotiator] Wendy Sherman contacted John Kerry asking him to join the meeting," Nabavian recalled. "Upon his arrival, Kerry mentioned that he has met Netanyahu in the morning and his ears were still whistling because of Netanyahu’s shouts!"
As the Iranian nuclear negotiations move closer to a critical tipping point, Tehran’s hardline legislature is angling to give itself more control over the talks.
A recently proposed "special supervisory group" will submit guidelines for the negotiators to follow, according to Iran’s state-run Mehr News Agency.
The group of "high-ranking officials" will "coordinate with the negotiating team on issues such as uranium enrichment and other relevant issues," a member of the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission told Mehr.