Iran already a nuclear state with enough uranium to build ‘one, if not two’ bombs: ex US diplomat
By Tom Brown In Tirana and Adam Solomons For Mailonline 04:23 EDT 24 Jul 2022 , updated 04:34 EDT 24 Jul 2022
is already a state with enough uranium to build ‘one, if not two’ bombs, an ex-US diplomat and nuclear weapons expert has warned.
Former Washington official Robert Joseph told MailOnline: ‘The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has documented that Iran has 60% of enriched uranium, enough for at least one if not two bombs.
‘We have been saying for years “they’re approaching this breakout point and we’ve really got to negotiate with them.” They’re there.’
The ex-United States Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security was speaking ahead of the ‘Free Iran’ summit in Albania, which was abruptly cancelled due to a terror threat.
The US Department of State issued a security alert ahead of the summit this weekend, urging officials – including Joseph – not to attend.
Fellow Washington officials including former national security adviser John Bolton, senator Joe Lieberman and former NATO General James Jones were set to attend.
‘I am the last person who would suggest the use of force, either there or with North Korea,’ Joseph said in Tirana. ‘But rather to support the opposition in overthrowing this regime.’
Joseph was the chief negotiator to Libya in 2003 and is credited with convincing Colonel Muammar Gaddafi to give up his nuclear weapons programme.
He has been strongly critical of former president Barack Obama’s regime and in its actions in aiding the overthrow of Gaddafi’s government in 2011, as well as the 2015 nuclear deal, which the administration agreed to prevent Iran from developing weapons of mass destruction.
The conference was being hosted by an exiled Iranian opposition group living in exile in the Ashraf 3 camp in Tirana, with some former US officials backing the campaigners as a potential replacement for the Islamic Republic currently running Iran.
‘The US government is aware of a potential threat targeting the Free Iran World Summit to be held near Durres, Albania on July 23-24, 2022,’ said the US Embassy in Albania one day prior to the event, asking US citizens to avoid the summit and ‘be aware of your surroundings’.
The IAEA, the UN nuclear watchdog, said in May that Iran’s ‘breakout time’ — the time theoretically required for the regime to produce a nuclear weapons — had shrunk to two weeks.
But the Institute for Science and International Security said a month later the breakout time had hit zero.
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‘We hear that they are regularly testing ballistic missiles, and they are seeking to get enough uranium that they are able to produce a weapon,’ said MP Matthew Offord, who had been scheduled to attend the event.
‘The issue with the ballistic missiles is that they would be longer range,’ he added. ‘It wouldn’t be in the immediate area, say as far as Israel, it could go a lot further than that.’
The MP said he has been ‘taking preventative actions’ after the death of his friend David Amess last year, a fellow MP murdered by an Islamist extremist.
Iranian agents have previously targeted events hosted by the members of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the exiled opposition that relocated to Tirana after thousands of its members were executed during the 2013-2017 War in Iraq.
John Baird, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada who was also scheduled to attend, said the terror threat was only the second time in his career when a summit was cancelled because of a credible threat to attendees, the first also involving the NCRI.
In 2018, French police arrested an Iranian agent trying to bring explosives and a detonator to a NCRI rally in Paris.
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Assadollah Assadi, 49, who worked at the Iranian embassy in Vienna, was given a 20-year jail term by the court in Antwerp in Belgium, the first time an Iranian official had faced such charges in the EU since the 1979 revolution.
But on Thursday the Belgian parliament ratified a treaty to swap the convicted terrorist with a Belgian citizen held hostage in Iran, a move strongly opposed by the Iranian opposition.
‘We need to stand with Iran in this great struggle. The people of Iran have got to know that the world recognises this regime for what it is,’ Baird added. ‘I strongly support regime change, not outside with military force, but the National Council is probably the biggest and most effective opposition to the regime, so we need to support them.’
The IAEA said in May that Iran’s stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent had grown to 95 pounds, an increase of more than 300% compared to the previous three months.
NCRI originally revealed the Iranian regime’s nuclear weapons programme to the world in 2005, providing evidence to international bodies that the regime has worked on production of a neutron initiator by using Polonium 210 and Beryllium — granting it the capacity to enrich uranium and eventually acquire nuclear weapons.