'Iran at least 5 years away from bomb'

Former UN weapons inspector hopes for peaceful resolution to crisis.

iran nuke plant 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
iran nuke plant 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Former UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix on Monday said Iran is a least five years away from developing a nuclear bomb, leaving time to peacefully negotiate a settlement. Blix, attending an energy conference in the Western Norway city of Bergen, said he doubted the US would resort to invading Iran. "But there is a chance that the US will use bombs or missiles against several sites in Iran," he was quoted as saying by Norwegian news agency NTB. "Then, the reactions would be strong, and would contribute to increased terrorism." The former weapons inspector was right in his conclusion that former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein did not have the weapons of mass destruction cited by the United States as a main reason for its March 2003 invasion of Iraq. The Swede said there is still time for dialogue over Iran's nuclear enrichment program, which Teheran insists is for peaceful purposes but the West fears is part of a secret nuclear weapons program. "We have time on our side in this case. Iran can't have a (nuclear) bomb ready in the next five years," Blix was quoted as saying. Blix, also a former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, urged the United States to take its time, as it is doing in a similar nuclear standoff with North Korea. "The US has given itself time and is negotiating with North Korea, while Iran got a very short deadline," he was quoted as saying. "The US and other major powers should negotiate, and offer some 'carrots' as they have done with North Korea."