Iran Suggests It May Seek Nuclear Weapons, in New Escalation of Threats

- THE NEW YORK TIMES - Feb 9, 2021 -

Rick Gladstone, Farnaz Fassihi and Ronen Bergman -

Tehran last month. President Biden has said the United States would rescind sanctions if Iran first returned to commitments it made under the 2015 nuclear agreement.Credit...Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA, via Shutterstock

An Iranian official says U.S. sanctions could force Iran to revoke its pledge to not seek a nuclear weapon. New intelligence suggests Iran is 2 years away from producing one.

The Biden administration faced a double-dose of bad and not-so-bad news Tuesday on Iran: Iranian leaders hinted they are rethinking their vow to never seek a nuclear weapon, and new Israeli intelligence suggests they are at least two years away from producing one.

Iran’s intelligence minister raised the possibility that his country would be forced to seek nuclear arms if American sanctions were not lifted, an attention-grabbing break from the country’s pledge that its atomic energy program would always be peaceful.

The remarks by the intelligence minister, Mahmoud Alavi, added pressure on President Biden’s three-week-old administration to avert a new crisis with Iran while it grapples with the economic and health emergencies spawned by the

Covid-19 pandemic. An administration official called Mr. Alavi’s statement “very concerning.”

At the same time, a new intelligence assessment by Israel’s military said that if Iran chose to build a bomb, it would need about two years, partly because it lacks all the components and technical ability. The assessment contrasts with the more alarmist assertions made by both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and top members of the new U.S. administration, and suggests there may be diplomatic breathing room to avert a showdown.


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