Brussels: Iran could have enough enriched
uranium for a nuclear bomb within three years, perhaps even
next year, according to intelligence reports, US Defence
Secretary Robert Gates said on Friday.
"Intelligence estimates range from one to three years,"
he told the press after a meeting with his NATO counterparts.
However he stressed that these projections were only for
the production of weapons grade uranium and not its
weaponisation or the development of a delivery system.
Gates added that the United States remained in close
consultation with Israel on the fresh set of sanctions imposed
on Iran by the UN Security Council.
In keeping with the US doctrine of not excluding any
initiative to tackle Iran`s nuclear ambitions, he mentioned
the risk that Iran "could face military action from Israel or
somewhere else," should it pursue nuclear arms.
Tehran maintains its uranium enrichment programme is for
peaceful civilian purposes, while Western nations have charged
that Iran is covertly seeking to develop nuclear weapons.
Turkey`s Iran vote `disappoints` US Defence Secy
US Defence Secretary Robert
Gates said today he was "disappointed" by Turkey`s opposition
to a UN Security Council resolution imposing new sanctions on
Iran because of its disputed nuclear program.
Gates also said intelligence estimates indicated that
Iran could not produce a nuclear weapon for at least one to
Turkey and Brazil were the only two council members to
vote against the US-backed measure Wednesday.
"I`ll be honest, I was disappointed in Turkey`s vote
on Iranian sanctions," Gates told reporters after a two-day
meeting of NATO defense ministers.
"That said, Turkey is a decades-long ally of the
United States and a member of NATO (and) continues to play a
critical part in the alliance."
He noted that the United States and Turkey have a
strong military relationship and that the US maintains bases
on Turkish territory.
"Allies don`t always agree on things," Gates said.
"But we move forward from here. We`ll just do that."
He said intelligence estimates differed on the time
needed for Iran`s to produce a nuclear device, "but that is
different from weaponisation or delivery system or anything
"But clearly them getting to the threshold of having
weapons is what concerns everybody, and not the other things,
and in that area I would say there is a range there from 1-3