salai meridor 298.88.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Iran has not yet crossed the threshold of being able to make nuclear weapons but might be no more than two years away, Israeli ambassador Sallai M. Meridor said Wednesday.
"I really think they are on the verge of getting the genie out of the bottle and leaving our children with a nightmare," the Israeli envoy said at a news conference at the Council on Foreign Relations, a private think tank.
Meridor said Iran was having trouble with the process of installing centrifuges to get them spinning and was trying to decide between "quantity and quality" in its program.
"2009 is the worst-case scenario to have the bomb," Meridor said, while renewing an Israeli vow to try to derail any nuclear weapons program.
"They are not there yet," he said.
Iran insists its program is designed to produce civilian energy. It has resisted Western offers of diplomatic and economic benefits if it would suspend enrichment programs.
The latest report from the UN nuclear agency saying Iran was still refusing to suspend uranium enrichment has set the stage for an attempt by the United States and its allies to impose tough economic sanctions against Iran.
Meridor said Iran was susceptible to economic pressure because it was dependent on foreign investment, but, apparently referring to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he said, "the world continues to fund this madman."
If economic and diplomatic pressure should fail, Meridor threatened action by Israel. "An option is on the table, and they will not be allowed to have nuclear weapons," he said.
Asked to elaborate on what actions Israel might be considering, the ambassador said, "I hope you will forgive me for not sharing that."