Israel PM warns Iran can develop nuclear bomb by 2010
(AFP) Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned on Tuesday that Iran is likely to develop an atomic bomb by 2010 if it is allowed to continue its controversial nuclear programme.
He said a report by the National Intelligence Estimate — the consensus view of all 16 US intelligence agencies — saying Iran had ended its nuclear weapons programme in 2003 should not stop international pressure on Tehran to stop uranium enrichment.
“Iran continues its activities to enrich uranium, and even according to the NIE report, it is likely to accumulate sufficient amounts to create a nuclear weapon by 2010,” Olmert told the Institute for National Security Studies.
“Iran continues its activities to attain two vital components to create nuclear weapons — the development of a sophisticated electrical system and ballistic missiles, while at the same time producing enriched uranium.
“International pressure on Iran has been very effective, even according to the NIE report, and it should be continued and even increased,” he said in the speech delivered at the start of a security conference at the Tel Aviv centre.
The NIE report last week said US allegations about Iran’s atomic goals had been overblown for at least two years, but that Tehran could have the capability to make a nuclear weapon by 2015.
The revised assessment prompted China and Russia — both veto-wielding permanent members of the UN Security Council — to question the case for further sanctions, backed strongly by Israel as well as the United States.
Israel, regarded as the region’s sole if undeclared nuclear power, considers Iran its archfoe after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejd’s repeated calls for the destruction of the Jewish state.
Olmert said Israel does “not need an intelligence report to know of the intentions of the regime in Tehran.
“A country rich in oil and gas does not need to enrich uranium for civilian needs in order to produce alternative energy… unless it wants to develop nuclear weapons,” the premier said.
He was indirectly quoted in the media on Sunday, as warning that Iran could acquire nuclear weapons by 2010, but Tuesday’s speech was the first time he made the declarations in public.
Iran says it needs to develop nuclear power to provide energy for a growing population when fossil fuels run out.
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