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Iran’s nuclear chief says the country could build …

Iran’s nuclear chief says the country may develop nuclear weapons but has no plans to do so, according to an Iranian news agency.

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Mohammad Eslami’s comments echo a similar recent statement by a senior adviser to Iran’s supreme leader. Such public statements by senior officials are rare and are likely to heighten concerns about the nature of Iran’s nuclear program. After a deal limiting it, it advanced its nuclear The 2015 agreement began to crumble when the US withdrew from it and reimposed crippling economic sanctions. Iran has repeatedly argued that its nuclear program is purely for peaceful purposes, but Western powers and the global nuclear watchdog say they are not convinced. Western officials have warned that time is running out on renewing the deal before Iran’s program reaches a point where it cannot be reversed.
In his comments, published on Monday by the semi-official Fars news agency, Mr Eslami echoed those of senior adviser Kamal Harrazi. is not on the agenda,” Mr. Eslami said. In comments made to Al Jazeera news on July 17, Mr. Harazi said: “Iran has the technical means to produce a nuclear bomb, but Iran has not decided on of its creation.”

Concerns are growing about the so-called breakthrough time, or the time it would take for Iran to accumulate enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon.
In June, the head of the World Atomic Energy Agency UN, Rafael Grossi, said that Iran could acquire that amount in a matter of weeks. The U.S. estimated the time for the rupture to be about a year later during the period when the nuclear deal was in effect.
However, Mr. Grossi said that having enough material did not mean that Iran could produce a nuclear bomb.
In its latest report in May, the IAEA said Iran had 43.1 kg (95 lb) of uranium enriched to 60% purity. About 25 kg of uranium enriched to 90% is needed for nuclear weapons.
Iran’s claims that it has the technical know-how to develop a bomb come as Iran and world powers wrangle over renewing the 2015 accord.
Months of talks in Vienna stalled, and rare indirect talks between the US and Iran on the issue, held in Qatar in June, ended without an agreement.