Report: US does not regard Iran as direct nuclear threat
The US government has persuaded Israel that Iran poses no direct nuclear threat, owing in part to persistent problems marring the Islamic state's nuclear programme, the New York Times reported Thursday, citing administration officials.
The paper said Iran would need about a year or even longer to be able to convert enough material into weapons grade uranium for a working nuclear weapon. Israeli intelligence officials had said that Tehran could complete this feat in months, DPA reported.
Israeli and US officials now believe breakout is unlikely any time soon, the Times said.
"We think that they have roughly a year dash time," the paper quoted Gary Samore, President Barack Obama's top adviser on nuclear issues, as saying. "A year is a very long period of time."
Officials claim the assessment has lowered the prospect of a pre-emptive Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear facilities within the next year.
The US assessments are based on intelligence reports, and information from international inspectors concerning consistent technical problems in Iran's enrichment programme.
It remains unclear whether the hiccups are due to poor centrifuge design, problems in obtaining components due to international sanctions, or Western sabotage efforts, the report said.
Tehran maintains its nuclear programme is solely for peaceful purposes, but raised Western doubts with its secretive actions and lack of cooperation with international inspectors.