A top Iranian official says his country possesses the chemical and technical abilities to produce a nuclear weapon, the Washington Free Beacon reported citing Farsi language remarks that were independently translated for the news site.

The translation quoted Ahmad Khatami, a senior member of Iran’s Assembly of Experts, which has close ties to the country’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei. He noted in recent remarks that the ability to possess a nuclear missile “is vital for Iran to confront the U.S. and its allies,” as noted in Farsi language comments made over the weekend.

“Having missile[s] and nuclear authority is vital for Iran to confront the U.S. and its allies,” Khatami was quoted as saying during which he also described the U.S. government as a thug.

Those comments come following recent threats by the supreme leader to top Trump administration personnel including the president himself, his national security adviser John Bolton, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the Free Beacon reported.

Experts on Iran and the Middle East who spoke to the news site said U.S. intelligence agencies should take Khatami’s claims about having the ability to produce nuclear weapons seriously and as such, ought to begin an investigation into several potential agents linked to the Iranian regime, including some who are known to operate in the United States.

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