'Iran has all the parts ready - now they just need to be assembled'

Deputy IDF chief warns of Tehran's nuclear progress, says Israel 'might face repeated and direct confrontations with Iran'

Shilo Freid|
IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Major General Amir Baram warned that Iran was closer than ever to obtaining nuclear arms, public broadcaster Kan News reported on Wednesday.
"The nuclear situation in Iran is like a car with all the parts ready - now they just need to be assembled," he told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee earlier this week. "We must be able to fight on two fronts simultaneously and understand that these will be long wars. We might face repeated and direct confrontations with Iran."
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אמיר ברעם, סגן הרמטכ"ל ואלוף במיל' אייל זמיר
אמיר ברעם, סגן הרמטכ"ל ואלוף במיל' אייל זמיר
Centrifuges at an Iranian uranium enrichment facility; IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Major General Amir Baram
(Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
The discussion was initially intended to focus on the military draft law, but the major general raised several other security issues, adding, "Until now, the military has dealt with routine security questions, but today the discussion is centered on Israel's existential questions."
Baram's unusual warning aligns with comments made by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant during his visit to the U.S. late last month, where he called on the American administration to fulfill its commitment to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. "This is the time to fulfill the commitment of all recent U.S. administrations - to prevent a nuclear Iran, which poses a threat to the entire world," Gallant said in his meeting with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. "Time is running out on this issue."
Israeli officials reportedly harbor concerns that Iran might exploit the U.S. election season to break out and develop nuclear weapons. The U.S. presidential election is scheduled for this November, and Israel fears that Tehran understands Washington will be too preoccupied to address their actions, allowing Iran to rapidly advance its nuclear capabilities.
Additionally, Israel believes that the ongoing conflicts in the south and north might motivate the Iranians to seize this opportunity and Jerusalem believes that the current situation leaves no room for errors.
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המנהיג העליון של איראן עלי חמינאי נאום ברכה ל נורוז
המנהיג העליון של איראן עלי חמינאי נאום ברכה ל נורוז
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
These concerns are compounded by reports of Iran expanding its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Last month, The Washington Post reported that Iran has embarked on a massive expansion of operations at its Fordow uranium enrichment facility, the most fortified of its nuclear sites.
Production of enriched uranium at Fordow could soon increase more than threefold, providing Iran with new capabilities to swiftly develop nuclear weapons if it chooses to do so. Meanwhile, Iran announced plans to expand production at its primary uranium enrichment facility near Natanz.
According to The Washington Post's analysis of technical data, the expansion at Fordow alone could enable Iran to accumulate enough nuclear fuel for several atomic bombs each month. The report highlighted that although Fordow is smaller than Iran's other two enrichment facilities, its underground location deep within a mountain makes it nearly impervious to airstrikes.
According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran has amassed approximately 136 kilograms of highly enriched uranium, which, according to U.S. intelligence officials, could be converted into nuclear weapon fuel within days or weeks.
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איראן חשפה טיל בליסטי חדש בשם חייבר
איראן חשפה טיל בליסטי חדש בשם חייבר
Iranian ballistic missile
(Photo: Reuters)
Additionally, it is believed that Iran has acquired most of the technical knowledge needed to assemble a basic nuclear weapon, though it would likely take another one to two years to develop a nuclear warhead capable of being mounted on a missile.
To develop a nuclear bomb, Iran requires other technological components. In March, Ynet and its sister publication Yedioth Ahronoth that Iran has been actively seeking several such components recently. These components are necessary for assembling a nuclear warhead, and one senior official described these efforts as "very troubling."
Producing a functional nuclear bomb requires technical capability, knowledge and physical components like precise and coordinated detonators. It is generally accepted that Iran is one to two years away from achieving such capabilities.
However, three senior Israeli officials—one from the defense sector, another from the political sphere and a third with access to classified information—indicated that there have been recent developments in this area.
The three officials said that Iran has been actively pursuing or "probing" to acquire components needed for the "weapon group" required to assemble a nuclear bomb. Some expressed serious concern over these developments, while others noted that Iran might be continually engaged in such activities. None of them believed that Iran is currently breaking out to a nuclear bomb. Israel has reported these activities, as it perceives them, to its allies, particularly the United States.
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