Iranian Air Force - Reuters - 08112011
Members of the Iranian Air Force attending a prayer ceremony to mark the Muslim holiday of Id al-Adha in Tehran on Monday. Photo by Reuters
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Iran will be ready to build a nuclear bomb within a few months, if it desires, Western nuclear experts have told Haaretz. Other experts, who have seen intelligence used in the compilation of the latest International Atomic Energy Agency report on Iran, have said that Tehran already has the know-how, the technological means and the materials needed to put an atom bomb together within short order.

These experts have concluded that nuclear weapons engineers from Russia, Pakistan and North Korea have been assisting Iranian scientists in their efforts to reach nuclear capability. Haaretz published similar information last week, reporting that experts have said that Iran could carry out underground nuclear tests quite soon if it wants to.

One key figure was Vyacheslav Danilenko, a former Soviet nuclear scientist who worked for at least five years for Iran's Physics Research Center, a facility linked to the country's nuclear program. The information about Danilenko's role in Iran's nuclear program was provided by David Albright, a former UN weapons inspector who is president of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security. Some of this information was published on Monday in the Washington Post.

The IAEA report is slated for release on Monday or Tuesday. The director of the United Nations agency, Yukia Amano, has been under heavy pressure from Russia and China not to publish all of the evidence the IAEA has collated about Iran's nuclear program, in order to prevent an escalation of the crisis between the West and Iran. They suggested leaving the details fuzzy and not stating explicitly that Iran has reached nuclear capability.

The Iranian website Dolat-e ma ("our government" ), considered a strong supporter of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, posted remarks he made on Thursday in a meeting with supporters.

"The West has mobilized all of its forces to attack and finish us. It is as clear as day that NATO is very thirsty [eager] to attack Iran. The conditions are not normal. We are approaching the final confrontation. It will not necessarily be a military one, but possibly political ... We are reaching the height [of the confrontation]. If we are not prepared, we will suffer so greatly that we will be set back 500 years. They [NATO] wanted to attack Syria. I told the secretary general [of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon], 'tell them that if they attack Syria, the entire region will explode.'"

These comments are far from previous official statements by Ahmadinejad and senior Iranian officials, according to which Iran will strike back at anyone who tries to harm it.

This was the first time the Iranian president has publicly framed the threat facing Iran in apocalyptic terms, and as something against which concrete precautions must be taken. Ahmadinejad did not specify the nature of the preparation, or indicate whether Iran intends to comply with demands that it suspend its military nuclear program, but he implied that diplomatic, rather than military, action must be taken.

קראו כתבה זו בעברית: מומחים במערב: איראן נמצאת במרחק של חודשים ספורים מהרכבת פצצת גרעין