'clear and present danger', atomic energy agency, British Prime minister, Daily Mail Reporter, David Cameron, international atomic energy agency, Iran, King Abdullah, Middle East affairs, Mitt Romney, nuclear bomb, nuclear threat, republican presidential candidate, republican presidential candidate mitt romney, Saudi Arabia, scientist killed in Tehran
Iran warns Saudi Arabia not to help the West
- Magnetic bomb killed scientist in Tehran last week – the FIFTH attack in two years
- Iran blames US, Israel, and Britain for attacks
- US military official heads to Israel Monday for talks
By Daily Mail Reporter – Last updated on 16th January 2012
Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton has warned a report that Iran is a year away from being able to build a nuclear bomb may be too optimistic.
In a radio interview today, he said: ‘I worry the publicly available information is giving only a very small picture and that Iran is actually even much further along.’
Negotiations: Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, right, talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron, far left,
John Bolton with U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, has warned of Iran’s nuclear capability. (Photo below)
The former ambassador was asked about a statement from a former head of U.N. nuclear inspections claiming Iran is now just a year or so away from having enough enriched uranium to assemble a nuclear bomb.
Olli Heinonen wrote in an article published earlier this week that Iran made this advancement after switching production of its higher-grade enriched uranium to a new, underground site.
Reacting to the one-year timeline, Mr Bolton stated: ‘I think it can be even less than that.’
He continued: ‘They’ve got, by publicly available information from the International Atomic Energy Agency, enough low-enriched uranium that if enriched up to weapons grade would be enough for four weapons.’
‘So they’ve got more work to do, but they are already well on their way,’ he said.
Mr Bolton told Klein that 2012 will be a key year to stop Iran’s nuclear program.
‘Even Secretary of Defense Panetta said last month that Iran could have a nuclear device within a year,’ he argued. ‘So they are very close, and obviously if they stepped up their efforts and worked harder, they may well be able to do it before then.
‘So this is a clear and present danger,’ he continued. ‘And I think it’s one of the reasons why you see the tension now in the region and why 2012 is going to be such an important year.’
In his article last week, Heinonen, who was the IAEA’s director-general until 2010, said that building a stock of 250 kg of 20 per cent enriched uranium did not mean Iran could deploy a bomb without further engineering work.
Still, he allowed that 20 per cent enriched uranium could within weeks be further purified to the 90 per cent necessary for weapons grade.
Meanwhile, Iran today turned its attention towards its Gulf neighbours, warning Saudi Arabia that it would suffer consequences if they raised oil output to replace Iranian crude.
Mr Bolton was speaking on Aaron Klein Investigative Radio on New York’s WABC Radio.
Dead: Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan was killed in a magnetic bomb attack
With the EU contemplating a ban on oil imports from Iran, for their refusal to halt nuclear activity, Tehran officials have told several Arab countries not to negotiate with the United States and Europe.
The European Union is Iran’s second biggest oil customer after China, buying some 450,000 barrels per day of its 2.6 million bpd exports. Its foreign ministers will meet on January 23.
China’s premier was in Saudi Arabia on Sunday probing for greater access to its huge oil and gas reserves and Britain voiced confidence a once hesitant EU would soon ban oil imports from Iran.
That follows British Prime Minister David Cameron’s visit to the Saudi capital Riyadh where he discussed Iran’s position with King Abdullah whilst also requesting an increased output from the Saudi reserves.
Today, Saudi Arabia expressed doubts over Iran’s claim it could block the main oil shipping route out of the Gulf and made clear it was ready to pump more oil after sanctions threatened to cut Iranian sales of crude.
Brent crude rose above $111 on concerns about global oil supplies if sanctions freeze OPEC’s second biggest producer out of the market or push it towards military conflict, while Saudi Arabia said it would work to stabilise the price at $100.
Saudi Arabia, Iran’s main rival for influence in the Middle East which would play a key role in replacing Iranian oil in he event of an embargo, played down Tehran’s talk of closing the Strait of Hormuz, the vital shipping lane for Gulf exports.
‘I personally do not believe that the Strait, if it were shut, will be shut for any length of time. The world cannot stand for that,’ Saudi Arabia’s Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi told CNN.
‘I don’t think all these pronouncements are helpful to the international oil market or to the price of oil. It’s really disturbing.’
Iran’s warning to its Gulf Arab neighbours not to raise oil output to replace its crude appeared to have fallen on deaf ears. Mr Naimi said Riyadh could increase production by about 2 million barrels per day (bpd) ‘almost immediately’.
‘Our wish and hope is we can stabilise this oil price and keep it at a level around $100,’ Mr Naimi said.
Iran has been in turmoil following the fifth bomb attack in two years that killed 32-year-old Mostafa Ahmad Roshan in Tehran last Wednesday.
Ratcheting up the war of words with the West, the Iranians claimed that they have proof that the CIA was behind the killing.
They also sent a ‘letter of condemnation’ to Britain accusing London of having an ‘obvious role’ in the bombing.
Both Britain and the United States have condemned the killing of civilians. Israeli officials, in contrast, have hinted at covert campaigns against Iran without admitting involvement.
It said that the chain of assassinations began after British intelligence chief Sir John Sawers hinted in 2010 at undercover operations against the Islamic Republic.
Sir John was quoted at the time as saying that intelligence-led initiatives were needed to make it more difficult for countries like Iran to develop nuclear weapons.
He said one of the agency’s roles was to investigate efforts by states to build atomic warheads in violation of their international legal obligations and identify ways to slow down their access to vital materials and technology.
The letter said the killing of Iranian nuclear scientists had ‘started exactly after the British official John Sawers declared the beginning of intelligence operations against Iran.’
The Iranian Foreign Ministry handed a letter claiming it had evidence the US plotted the scientist’s death to the Swiss Ambassador in Tehran.
Switzerland has represented American interests in Iran since relations were broken off with Washington shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
‘We have reliable documents and evidence that this terrorist act was planned, guided and supported by the CIA,’ said the note, according to Iran’s state media.
Tehran has urged the United Nations Security Council to condemn the latest killing, claiming it was carried out to undermine its nuclear ambitions.
General Masoud Jazayeri, spokesman for Iran’s Joint Armed Forces Staff, said: ‘The enemies of the Iranian nation, especially the United States, Britain and the Zionist regime, or Israel, have to be held responsible for their activities.’
While the Iranians insist they are merely trying to harness nuclear power for energy uses, the West and Israel says Tehran wants to build bombs.
Iran has threatened to close off the key oil shipping route through the Strait of Hormuz if new sanctions are imposed on its lifeblood oil exports.
Britain and other western powers have vowed to take military action to keep the channel open.
Senior U.S. military officials said mine-sweeping dolphins would be the first line of offence if Iran carried out its threat to choke off the Strait.
The Navy-trained dolphins would be used to identify Iranian mines, according to retired Admiral Tim Keating, former commander of the US 5th Fleet in Bahrain.
In talks: President Obama, left, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, discussed the Iran situation via telephone
The top U.S. military commander is scheduled for talks in Israel this week at a time when the U.S. is concerned that Israel might be preparing to attack Iran over its nuclear program.
The Israeli Defence Ministry confirmed the planned visit Thursday by Army General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. It did not give his agenda for talks with Israelis – but Iran is expected to be at the top.
Israel considers a nuclear-armed Iran to be an existential threat because of its nuclear program, missile capabilities, support for anti-Israel militants in Lebanon and Gaza and frequent references by its president to the destruction of Israel.
Israel has repeatedly hinted it might take military action if international sanctions fail to stop Iran’s nuclear development.
The U.S., Israel and other Western nations believe Iran is developing atomic weapons. Tehran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
Gen Dempsey’s visit will be his first official trip to Israel since he assumed command of the joint chiefs on September 30. His predecessor, Admiral Mike Mullen, made several visits to Israel during his four-year term.
On Thursday President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the Iran situation in a telephone conversation.
The Obama administration is concerned that Iran’s recent claim that it is expanding nuclear operations with more advanced equipment may push Israel closer to a strike.
The U.S. still hopes that international pressure will persuade Iran to back down, but the Islamic regime shows no sign it would willingly give up a project that has become a point of national pride.
The U.S. has led a series of economic sanctions against the regime.
On Sunday, Israeli Cabinet Minister Moshe Yaalon said he was disappointed that the U.S. has not expanded the measures to further damage Iran’s central bank and its energy industry.