Iran could have the capability to build a nuclear bomb by July, unnamed security sources said in a report published Friday.
The sources added that Israel’s leadership had been mollified by US President Barack Obama’s visit earlier this month, which saw Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seemingly cotton to Washington’s later timeline on when Iran could have a nuclear bomb.
The security sources, said to be close to Netanyahu’s talks with Obama, claimed that after seeing North Korea wield nuclear weapons despite heavy Western opposition, Tehran’s leadership had also decided to break out toward the bomb, which could be ready between July and September.
“The Iranians aren’t messing around after North Korea. What Kim Jong Un has Ahmadinejad has,” a source told the Israeli daily Maariv, referring to North Korea’s and Iran’s respective leaders. “At the end of 2012 the Iranians carried out a simulation of a nuclear explosion and since then have been advancing at a murderous pace every day.”
Last year, Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly that Iran could have the bomb by spring 2013, but Israeli officials have revised the assessment several times to later dates. Obama, who visited Israel last week to discuss cooperation on Iran, among other things, seemed to convince Netanyahu to go along with the US timeline, which holds that Iran is still a year away and has not yet decided to race full-speed to a nuclear weapon.
However, the sources said Obama’s charm offensive had managed to “buy” Netanyahu — and Israel ended up losing out, with Jerusalem’s hands now tied on Iran.
“The president threw sand in our eyes and now we are reaping the storm,” one source said. “They bought us with flattery and displays of friendship, but managed to evade any responsibility for a strike.”
While Israel has pushed for a military option against Tehran’s nuclear program, the US has maintained that time remains for diplomacy and sanctions to end the standoff. Netanyahu’s statements during Obama’s visit seemed to indicate Israel would not act without US backing, which many analysts say would be necessary for an effective attack.
Iran claims its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but several rounds of talks over allowing in inspectors or curbing enrichment have yielded few results.