US: Nuclear Iran at least a year away

Report: Ahmadinejad prepared to begin talks with Security Council.

Ahmadinejad peace sign 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Ahmadinejad peace sign 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
The US has convinced Israel that Iran is at least a year away from building nuclear weapon, The New York Times reported Friday.
Meanwhile, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "promised
to stop enriching uranium to 20 percent if a fuel supply is ensured," saying Iran was prepared to begin talks with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany on a nuclear fuel swap deal immediately, speaking in an interview published Friday in Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun, AFP reported.
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Israeli officials thought Iran could develop nuclear weapons within months. But Gary Samore, President Barack Obama's top adviser on nuclear issues, told the Times he thinks it would take Teheran "roughly a year" to turn low-enriched uranium into weapons-grade material.
"A year is a very long period of time," Samore was quoted by the newspaper in a report posted on its website late Thursday.
The assessment is based on US intelligence and international inspectors' reports.
Israeli officials have indicated that if they thought Iran was developing a nuclear weapon, they would probably take military action. Iran says it is enriching uranium only for peaceful purposes.
American and Israeli officials believe that Iran has only enough nuclear materials for two weapons. And to build those two would require the country to kick out international inspectors, which would make it clear what its intentions were.
It would also take some time for Iran to convert its nuclear facilities to produce weapons-grade uranium.
Iran has added relatively few centrifuges — machines that enrich uranium — this year, and only about half of those are working, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.
"Either they don't have the machines, or they have real questions about their technical competence," Samore told the Times.
Israeli officials remain suspicious that Iran has a secret enrichment site.