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Iran could successfully assemble a nuclear weapon in “a matter of months, not years,” according to Israel’s Deputy Minister of Defense, Danny Danon.
If Iranian leaders give the go ahead, the regime’s nuclear team would be able to assemble a nuclear weapons “very fast,” Danon told the Washington Free Beacon on Wednesday, a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stood before the United Nations and warned of Iran’s genocidal intentions.
Danon reinforced that Israel has “the capability” to stop Iran’s nuclear pursuit should it come to that.
“Absolutely,” Danon said when asked if Israel is prepared to use force against Iran. “We have the capability to do whatever is necessary in the long range and short range.”
Tehran’s modest outreach to President Barack Obama has been accompanied by a quiet ramp up in its nuclear pursuit, Danon said.
“They are being very careful not to get to the point where they’re crossing the line Prime Minister Netanyahu marked last year,” Danon said, referring to Netanyahu’s nuclear “red line” marking the point in which Iran will have enough uranium to fuel a bomb.
Iran has continued to enrich uranium to increasingly high levels over the past months, even as it has promised to engage in negotiations with Western nations.
“If they like, it could be a matter of months, not years” before Iran crosses the nuclear threshold, Danon warned.
The U.N.'s top nuclear watchdog reported earlier this year that Iran is testing around 1,000 new advanced centrifuges, which would enable it to enrich uranium much quicker.
It also has begun to work on a nuclear reactor that could provide an alternate path to a plutonium-fueled nuclear weapon.
World leaders have become distracted by Iranian President Hassan Rowhani’s conciliatory rhetoric and forgotten to pay attention to the regime’s actions, Danon said.
“The most concerning issue is not ignoring the reality in the Middle East,” he said. “Some people think we have more time, but we say clearly, that’s not the case.”
The Iranian delegation’s visit to the U.N. “is allowing them to have more time,” Danon said, echoing comments by Netanyahu.
“Rowhani doesn’t sound like [former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad], but when it comes to Iran’s nuclear weapons program, the only difference between them is this,” Netanyahu said at the U.N. “Ahmadinejad was a wolf in wolf’s clothing, Rowhani is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
“You know why Rowhani thinks he can get away with this?” Netanyahu said. “Because he’s gotten away with it before. Because his strategy of talking a lot and doing little has worked for him in the past. … Rowhani thinks he can have his yellowcake and eat it too.”
Danon noted that while Rowhani “made a very good show” at the U.N., “we have to watch out.”
Israeli leaders will “focus on the actions, not the declarations,” Danon said.
Asked about Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to restart stalled peace talks between the Palestinians and Israelis, Danon replied, “I’m not very optimistic.”
There is “no viable partner” with which to hold talks, Danon said, referring to Palestinian leaders who continue to deny Israel’s right to exist and promote violence.
When asked about reports that the Palestinians are gearing up for a third intifada, or revolution against Israel, Danon said to expect the unexpected.
“In the Middle East everything can happen,” he said.