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Fri March 15, 2013
'Over A Year Or So' Before Iran Could Develop Nuclear Weapon, Obama Says
Putting a more specific estimate that he has in the past on the issue of how long it might take Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, President Obama has told Israel's Channel 2 TV that it could happen in "over a year or so" if efforts to dissuade Iran do not succeed.
The president also said that while he wants to resolve the issue diplomatically, he is keeping "all options on the table."
For its part, Iran has long said its nuclear program is only aimed a peaceful uses for that energy source.
CNN has a video clip from the interview, which aired in Israel on Thursday. The president is due to make a visit to Israel next week.
Obama repeats in the interview that a nuclear-armed Iran is a "red line for us." Then, he adds that "right now, we think that it would take over a year or so for Iran to actually develop a nuclear weapon. ... Obviously we don't want to cut it too close. ... What we're going to be doing is to continue to engage internationally with Iran, understanding that we've set up the toughest sanctions ever. ... If we can resolve it diplomatically, that's a more lasting solution. But if not, I continue to keep all options on the table."
The New York Times notes that "Obama's estimated timeline contrasts with [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu's stated belief that Israel and its Western allies are likely to have to intervene by the spring or summer, when, he says, Iran's scientists will have enriched enough uranium to become a nuclear threat. ... The question of how close Iran is to being able to use a nuclear weapon has generated friction between the two leaders and will be at the center of their security discussions."