PM doubts Iran will have nukes by 2009

Olmert says recent forecasts are based on optimal conditions from Iran's standpoint.

Iran Nuclear 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Iran Nuclear 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday downplayed recent speculation from Israeli security officials that Iran could have a nuclear capability by the end of 2009. Briefing the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Olmert responded to recent statements to that effect made to the committee by the head of military intelligence, Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin and the head of the IDF's research division, Brig.-Gen. Yossi Baidatz. "There are disagreements on the date that Iran will become nuclear," Olmert told the MKs. "Iran could become nuclear by 2009 only if nothing gets in their way and under the optimal conditions from Iran's standpoint. My opinion is that such conditions will not arise and that the real timetable will be different. However, we still have to act as if they are on the way to [nuclearization] by 2009." Olmert also rejected speculation that Russia was letting Iran become a nuclear power. "I think Russia doesn't have an interest in a nuclear Iran. They have supported steps against the nuclearization of Iran," he said. Asked about the possibility of Israel taking military action, he told the MKs that there was room on the scale between taking military action and doing nothing at all. He expressed confidence that economic and diplomatic steps will be successful in preventing Iran's nuclearization. Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, who is in charge of Israel's strategic dialogue with the United States on Iran, briefed the Kadima faction about his meetings with American officials last week in Washington. "What [Mofaz] accomplished is extremely important," Olmert told the faction. "It was a very important step toward building the infrastructure for the strategy on this important issue."