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Iran could have nuclear weapons in two years: CIA

Leon Panetta, director of the CIA, said on Sunday that Iran could have nuclear weapons within two years. International nuclear experts believe Iran has enough low-enriched uranium for two weapons, but it would have to be further enriched "to get there", Panetta noted in remarks to ABC TV news.

world Updated: Jun 28, 2010 08:22 IST
DPA

Leon Panetta, director of the CIA, said on Sunday that Iran could have nuclear weapons within two years.

International nuclear experts believe Iran has enough low-enriched uranium for two weapons, but it would have to be further enriched "to get there", Panetta noted in remarks to ABC TV news.

Panetta noted that there was "continuing debate" within Iran as to whether they should pursue building a bomb.

"We would estimate that if they made that decision, it would probably take a year to get there, probably another year to develop the kind of weapon delivery system in order to make that viable," Panetta said.

Iran insists it is enriching uranium for domestic energy production. Earlier this month, the UN Security Council passed the strictest yet set of sanctions aimed at getting Iran to dismantle its enrichment programme that can produce weapons-grade uranium.

Panetta said he thought the sanctions would "have some impact".

But he added: "Will it deter them from their ambitions with regards to nuclear capability? Probably not".

Panetta noted Israel's special concerns about Iran, whose President Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad believes Israel has no right to exist. But the CIA director said Israel appears willing to give the sanctions a chance and give the US "room to be able to try to change Iran diplomatically and culturally and politically as opposed to changing them militarily".