Iran has the technical capability to produce an atomic bomb but has no intention of doing so, Mohammad Eslami, head of the country’s atomic energy organization, said on Monday, according to Reuters.
Eslami was reiterating comments made by Kamal Kharrazi, a senior adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, earlier in July.
“As Mr. Kharrazi mentioned, Iran has the technical ability to build an atomic bomb, but such a program is not on the agenda,” said Eslami on Monday.
Kharrazi told Al Jazeera in an interview earlier this month that Iran’s nuclear program is already capable of producing uranium at 90% enrichment.
“In a few days we were able to enrich uranium up to 60% and we can easily produce 90% enriched uranium,” Kharrazi said. “Iran has the technical means to produce a nuclear bomb but there has been no decision by Iran to build it.”
He also warned that Tehran would retaliate against any attack by Israel on its nuclear facilities, claiming that Iran has conducted “extensive maneuvers with the aim of striking Israel hard if our sensitive facilities are targeted.”
These comments by Iranian officials come as talks between the US and Iran on a return to the 2015 nuclear deal remain stalled.
Iran scaled back its compliance with the 2015 deal, in response to former US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement in May of 2018, but has held several rounds of indirect talks with the US on a return to the agreement.
An agreement was nearly reached before the talks stopped in March. Last week, however, EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said he had proposed a new draft text to revive the 2015 deal.
Iran’s Foreign Minister later said his country welcomed diplomatic efforts to revive its 2015 nuclear pact with major powers.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters that Washington was reviewing the "draft understanding" Borrell shared with Iran and other parties to the 2015 deal and would respond directly to the EU.
Meanwhile, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, warned recently that Iran's nuclear program is "galloping ahead" and his agency has very limited visibility on what is happening.
Last month, the IAEA issued a report in which it said Iran is escalating its uranium enrichment further by preparing to use advanced IR-6 centrifuges at its underground Fordow site that can more easily switch between enrichment levels.
Last year, the IAEA found uranium particles at two Iranian sites it inspected after months of stonewalling.
Although the sites where the material was found are believed to have been inactive for nearly two decades, opponents of the 2015 nuclear deal Iran signed with world powers say evidence of undeclared nuclear activities shows that Iran has not been acting in good faith.
Iran has claimed that the IAEA was influenced by Israel when compiling its reports on its nuclear program.