HERZLIYA (JTA)Â — Iran has already reached the point of being a “nuclear threshold state,” Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said.
Steinitz discussed Iran’s nuclear program Monday at the Herzliya Conference, an Israeli policy conference hosted by the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, an Israeli university. Repeating a message advanced by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Steinitz urged world powers to demand that Iran dismantle its nuclear program as part of negotiations to lift international sanctions against Iran.
Lifting the international sanctions regime against Iran while allowing Iran to maintain the ability to build a nuclear bomb, Steinitz said, would be a “terrible deal.” He said that Iran is already on the threshold of creating a nuclear bomb, and that it has the capability to build a bomb in less than a year.
Steinitz said that if Iran remains a nuclear threshold state after a deal is signed, other Middle Eastern states will be encouraged to seek nuclear weapons, and Iran will feel free to build a bomb in the future.
“What’s at stake isn’t just the fate of Israel in the Middle East,” Steinitz said. “What is at stake is the fate of the entire world. Iran is a nuclear threshold state. It just hasn’t created the weapons yet.”
The United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China have been negotiating with Iran toward an agreement in which Iran would scale back its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions. Iran is widely believed to be producing a nuclear weapon, despite Iran’s claim that the program is civilian in nature.