Iran will not be able to manufacture nuclear weapons until at least 2015, Israeli media on Friday quoted
Meir Dagan, the outgoing head of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency, as saying, DPA reported.
Dagan estimated however, that Iran still had the motivation to manufacture nuclear weapons, despite what he said were difficulties which were preventing Tehran from reaching nuclear capability.
Dagan retired as Mossad Director-General on Thursday, after serving in the post for more than eight years.
During his term, Israeli assessments of when Iran will be able to manufacture nuclear weapons have changed.
In 2003, Israeli intelligence officials estimated 2007 as the year Iran would get the bomb. In 207 they changed the assessment to 2009. Lst year later the estimated date was 2011.
According to analyst Yossi Melman, writing in the Ha'aretz daily, the changing assessments were not the result of mistaken evaluations, but "were due to the difficulties Iran has encountered in advancing its program, largely because of the Mossad's efforts."
In farewell remarks Dagan made Thursday, as he handed over his post to his successor, Tamir Pardo, he noted that Iran's Lebanese client, the Hezbollah guerrilla group, had more rockets and firepower than 90 per cent of the world's countries.
He said Iran had established a front against Israel comprised of Hezbollah on the northern border, and the Islamist Hamas movement, firmly entrenched in the Gaza Strip, on the south.