General James Cartwright, the vice chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, said yesterday that Iran could build a bomb in a year, although it would probably take three to five years.
Iran announced on Wednesday at the UN discussions in New York that it has produced five kg of 20 per cent enriched uranium, defying security council demands to stop enrichment. Iran says it needs the enriched uranium to make medically useful isotopes, but western governments fear the achievement will enable Tehran to develop the capacity to make weapons-grade fuel.
Despite this, China has deepened economic ties with Iran, boosting direct sales of petrol to the Islamic republic as the Chinese government negotiates new sanctions at the UN security council, it has emerged.
China has argued that the issue is not as urgent as Washington claims, and that there is still time for diplomacy.
A Chinese state oil company has sent two recent shipments of petrol to Iran, according to Reuters news agency.