Iran overcoming nuclear program problems: Barak

Israeli minister said Iran could still detonate nuclear device within a year.

Updated: Feb 24, 2011, 14:17 PM IST

Washington: Iran is gradually overcoming problems in its nuclear program, and could still detonate a nuclear device within a year if it put its mind to it, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said.

But Barak said Iran was "several years" from having the capability of putting a nuclear weapon on a medium-range missile.

"It`s clear they had certain holdups along the way and they are moving slower than expected," Barak said in an interview with CNN.

"But the painful fact is they keep moving forward. They are overcoming gradually the difficulties they faced. They don`t get tired of it," he said.

His comments follow recent statements by senior Israeli officials that Iran is now not expected to acquire a nuclear weapon before 2015.

Israel`s military intelligence chief, Brigadier General Aviv Kochavi, said a month ago that Iran was not currently working on a nuclear weapon, and it could be a year or two before it decides to do so.

Kochavi told the Knesset that once Iran decided to go for a nuclear weapon, it would take a year or two to produce one, and years longer to develop an effective missile delivery system for it.

Iran`s attempts to enrich uranium needed for a bomb is believed to have been set back by a so-called Stuxnet worm. The detection of the worm has led to widespread speculation that it was planted through a US or Israeli cyberattack.

Barak said it was possible that the nuclear programs problems were the result of cyberware.

"But there were many kinds of problems. The fact of the matter is they continue to accumulate more and more on uranium and a mid-level enriched uranium... and that should be disturbing to us."

Bureau Report