Israeli expert says Iran needs 18 months to build bomb

June 23, 2013 at 9:40 AM

JERUSALEM, June 23 (UPI) -- It would take Iran some 18 months to build a nuclear bomb, a senior Israeli security official told The Times of Israel.

"If the Iranian leader decided today that he wants to build a bomb, and he will probably want more than one bomb ... it will take him a few months to enrich uranium to weapons grade level. Then it would take a little while to create the bomb itself. The common presumption today is that [the entire process] will take him around a year and a half, assuming not too many things go wrong along the way." Sima Shine, head of the Iranian desk at the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, told the Israeli website.

Her comments contradict a statement made by Amos Yadlin,former head of Israel's military intelligence, who has estimated Iran will have crossed the red line set by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu by this summer. Addressing the United Nations in September last year, Netanyahu said Iran must not be allowed to produce enough enriched uranium for a single bomb, the website noted.

Shine says Iran is wary of crossing Netanyahu's red line but is adding centrifuges for uranium enrichment and working on a parallel plutonium-based nuclear track.

"They are slowly but surely establishing a wide and diverse [nuclear] program, without actually crossing the red line," Shine said.

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