Iran Ignores Joe Biden Mid East Visit: Boasts of ‘Nuclear Bomb’ Capability

President Joe Biden walk down the steps of Air Force One upon his arrival at Ben Gurion In
AP Photo/Ariel Schalit

A senior adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei boasted Sunday the Islamic republic is now capable of building a nuclear bomb, waiting until U.S. President Joe Biden was in the air and flying home from his Middle East visit to make the declaration of advanced capability.

“In a few days we were able to enrich uranium up to 60 percent and we can easily produce 90% enriched uranium … Iran has the technical means to produce a nuclear bomb but there has been no decision by Iran to build one,” Kamal Kharrazi told Al Jazeera’s Arabic service in a direct diplomatic snub to Biden.

Iran has long denied seeking nuclear weapons, saying it is refining uranium only for civilian energy uses, and has said its breaches of the international deal are reversible if the United States lifts sanctions and rejoins the agreement, Reuters reports.

Indirect talks between Iran and Biden’s administration, which aim to bring both Washington and Tehran back into compliance with the nuclear pact, have gone nowhere since March.

Kharrazi said Tehran would never negotiate over its missile programme and regional policy, as demanded by the West and its allies in the Middle East.

Biden has spent the past four days touring the Middle East in an effort at re-igniting his previous spluttering attempts at global diplomacy, with visits to Israel and eastern Jerusalem as well as Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Saturday cast doubt on Biden’s promise to boost oil production and bring down prices, saying his country had almost reached its capacity and could increase production only nominally to 13 million barrels per day, as Breitbart News reported.

The Saudi-owned Al Arabiya news network, citing an unnamed Saudi source, reported that Prince Mohammed responded to Biden’s mention of Khashoggi by saying that attempts to impose a set of values can backfire.

He also said the U.S. had committed mistakes at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, where detainees were tortured, and pressed Biden on the killing of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh during a recent Israeli raid on the West Bank city of Jenin.

Overall Biden had little to show for his trip aside from picture opportunities and meetings.

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