Iran To Be Nuclear Capable In Three Years: Israel Spy Chief
AFP | August 17 2005
Israel expects Iran to be capable of producing a nuclear weapon within three years, military intelligence chief General Aharon Zeevi told MPs at a closed-door briefing Tuesday, parliamentary sources said.
"Barring an unexpected delay, Iran is going to become nuclear capable in 2008 and not in 10 years as was recently reported in the American press, Zeevi told members of the foreign affairs and defence committee.
He was referring to a recent report in the Washington Post citing a US Central Intelligence Agency assessment that Iran would not be capable of producing a nuclear weapon for a decade.
Zeevi said he feared the report might be a deliberate leak intended to provide cover for inaction on Iran while the administration remained preoccupied by Iraq.
"If there is no response from the international community, the Iranians are going to overcome the technical difficulties in producing enriched uranium and will be able to produce the bomb," he warned.
Israel has been pressing its US ally to take a tough line with Iran, after it rejected a European package of incentives to abandon sensitive nuclear fuel cycle work, including both enrichment and its precursor uranium ore conversion.
"Iran made this decision because they are getting the impression that the United States and the Europeans are spineless," a senior official from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office told AFP earlier this month when Iran resumed uranium ore conversion, ending a nine-month suspension agreed with the EU.
In an interview with Israeli television broadcast on Friday, President George W. Bush pointedly refused to rule out the use of force against Iran after the setback to a negotiated solution.
"All options are on the table," he said.
Israel itself is believed to be the only nuclear power in the Middle East. Although it has never admitted to having nuclear weapons, it is believed to possess an arsenal of about 200 warheads.
In 1981, Israeli warplanes bombed Iraq's French-built Osirak nuclear reactor