Iran is a nuclear threat that the whole world needs to watch.
Ironically, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif agree on almost the exact key statistic: that the Islamic Republic has already produced enough low-quality uranium for at least two nuclear bombs within around four months – if it were to decide to weaponize the uranium.
Actually, Zarif and the International Atomic Energy Agency strangely give a slightly even worse evaluation, saying Iran has enough for even three nuclear bombs.
This was one message of Netanyahu in his Tuesday speech to the UN.
But another point he made was potentially more explosive. He told the UN General Assembly: “Iran has been working on a new generation of centrifuges. It’s called the IR-9, which will multiply Iran’s enrichment capability 50-fold.”
Wow. A 50-fold increase in the pace of enriching material for a nuclear bomb, combined with only a few months until breaking out to a nuclear weapon, sounds super scary.
And it is a scary picture maybe a year or more down the road. But as of now, the IR-9 is not even close to working.
In fact, almost all Iranian centrifuges are IR-1s or IR-2s, which it has had for years. Over the last year, Iran finally started to have some modest success with its IR-4 model. But on July 2, the key facility at Natanz for those centrifuges and the IR-9 was blown up.
The Jerusalem Post has confirmed that both government and nongovernment experts view that event as delaying Tehran in advanced centrifuge development by one or two years.
Then why is Netanyahu giving the impression that an Iranian nuclear weapon could be imminent?
It is all a gamble.
Netanyahu’s UN message was for the UN, Democrats and Republicans in the US, the EU, China, Russia, Arab allies and Iran itself. Multiple intelligence sources have made it clear to the Post that Israel always has and will continue to act to slow any Iranian march toward a nuclear bomb.
The prime minister’s message to the world and to Iran was that this better stay on their radar screen. Israel would prefer peace deals like the ones with the UAE and Bahrain.
But if key parties ignore Israeli concerns and the Islamic Republic crosses certain redlines, Israel is watching and ready to act.