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Panetta: Iran has uranium for 2 bombs

June 27, 2010 19:45

CIA director doubts UN penalties will stop Iran's nuclear ambitions.

CIA head Leon Panetta

Panetta 311. (photo credit:Associated Press)

CIA Director Leon Panetta said Sunday that Iran probably has enough low-enriched uranium for two nuclear weapons, but that it likely would take two years to build the bombs.

Panetta told ABC television’s This Week that he is doubtful that recent UN penalties will put an end to Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

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He said the penalties could help to weaken Teheran’s government by creating serious economic problems. But he added, “Will it deter them from their ambitions with regards to nuclear capability? Probably not.”

Panetta commented that there is “some debate” as to whether Iran will proceed with the bomb.

Asked about a potential Israeli military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, Panetta said he thinks Israel is giving the US room on the diplomatic and political fronts.

Panetta also spoke Sunday about North Korea and said he doesn’t think the skirmishes involving North Korea will lead to a military confrontation on the Korean peninsula.

International investigators concluded last month that North Korea torpedoed a South Korean warship near the Korean sea border. North Korea has denied the allegation and warned any punishment would trigger war.

Panetta told This Week that for many years, “we’ve been going through these kinds of provocations and skirmishes with a rogue regime.” In the end, “they always back away from the brink, and I think they’ll do that now.”

He said the attack could be related to who might succeed North Korean leader Kim Jong Il – possibly his youngest son.
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