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Israel: Iran could be year away from building nuclear bomb

Israeli officials discussed the possibility that Iran could have enough uranium to build four atomic bombs.

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Israeli Army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz said Israel should be "willing to deploy" if economic sanctions do not deter Iran from making nuclear weapons. An Israeli Merkava tank takes position in a mock city during an exercise at the Shizafon army base, in the Negev Desert north of the southern city of Eilat, on January 31, 2012. AFP PHOTO/JACK GUEZ (JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Israel estimated that Iran has enough uranium stockpiled to make four atomic bombs, once it has the ability to further enrich them, according to Reuters.

Addressing the Herzliya conference for strategic affairs, held in Tel Aviv, the chief of military intelligence, Major-General Aviv Kochavi said, “Iran has accumulated more than 4 tonnes of uranium enriched to a level of 3.5 percent and nearly 100 kilos at an enrichment level of 20 percent.” Kochavi also estimated that the process of developing a nuclear bomb would take Iran a year.

Vice Prime Minister and Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon called the possibility of a nuclear Iran “a nightmare to the free world” and claimed that all of Iran’s nuclear facilities are vulnerable to a military strike, reported Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz.

Ya’alon also suggested that Israel was developing a missile with the capability of delivering payloads up to 6,200 miles away, according to CNN.

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Israeli Army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz spoke at the same conference, saying that Israel must be “willing to deploy” if economic sanctions failed to deter Iran from developing nuclear weapons, according to Bloomberg.

On Jan. 24, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called upon China, India, Japan and South Korea to join in sanctions against Iran. Netanyahu told the parliament in Jerusalem, “Only a combination of paralyzing sanctions and a credible threat of ‘all options on the table’ will cause Iran to have second thoughts about its nuclear program,” reported Bloomberg.

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Countering Israel's assessments, a recent report by the Institute for Science and International Security suggested that Iran is not likely to develop a weapon in 2012, because it lacks the capability to develop enough weapons-grade uranium.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/israel-and-palestine/120202/israel-says-iran-could-be-year-away-bu