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In Athens, Israeli defense minister warns of Iranian nuclear advancement

Yoav Gallant said Iran ‘has gained material enriched to 20% and 60% for five nuclear bombs’

Ariel Hermoni/IMoD

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks in Athens, Greece, on May 4, 2023.

Iran has amassed enough enriched nuclear material for five nuclear bombs, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant warned on Thursday.

The defense minister, speaking from Greece, where he met with his Greek counterpart, Nikos Panagiotopoulos, said that Tehran “has gained material enriched to 20% and 60% for five nuclear bombs.”

“Israel will use all the means at our disposal to prevent a nuclear Iran,” Gallant added. “And the same is expected from the international community.”

Gallant’s comments come weeks after reports that the U.S. had discussed with Israeli and some European allies the possibility of an interim agreement with Iran in which Tehran would receive some sanctions relief in exchange for a partial freeze of its nuclear program.

In March, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel’s Mossad had helped to thwart a terror attack on a Jewish site in Athens that he noted was linked to Iran.

“This is not the only attack that was prevented,” Gallant said on Thursday of the foiled attack. “In fact, Iran has launched a global terror campaign, under the direct command of its leader. We have identified such efforts in Greece, Germany, the U.K., Cyprus and more. In this case, defense and intelligence cooperation with international partners is critical.”

Gallant also issued a warning following a strike on the Aleppo International Airport, in which one Syrian soldier was killed, noting that Iran has sent aircraft carrying weapons to the war-torn nation on a weekly basis for the last six months. 

“The Syrian regime should be aware that the IDF will respond forcefully to any attacks launched from its territory,” he said. “We will not allow Iran to establish military power in Syria, or to build a highway for the delivery of advanced weapons to Lebanon.”

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi traveled to Damascus on Wednesday to meet with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The trip marked the first visit by an Iranian president to Syria in more than a decade. Earlier in the week, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian was in Lebanon, where he visited the country’s border with Israel. “We are here today … to declare again with a loud voice that we support the resistance in Lebanon against the Zionist entity,” Amirabdollahian said in the border town of Maroun al-Ras.

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