'Germany Believes Iran Could Have Nuclear Bomb Within 6 Months'

German newsmagazine Stern quotes intelligence sources as saying that Iran has 'mastered' nuclear technology.

Iran is capable of assembling an atomic bomb within six months, German intelligence analysts told the German weekly newsmagazine Stern.

"If they want to, they will be able to set off a uranium bomb within six months," an analyst with Germany's intelligence service, Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), told the magazine.

German intelligence officials told Stern believe Iran has "mastered" every stage of uranium enrichment and that they have activated enough centrifuges to produce sufficient quantities of weapons-grade uranium for at least one atomic bomb.

"Nobody would have thought this possible some years ago," an intelligence official told Stern.

The UN Security Council has imposed three sets of sanctions on Tehran for defying its demands to suspend uranium enrichment.

Some analysts say Iran may be close to having the required material for producing a bomb, but most say the weaponization process would then take one to two years due to technical and political hurdles.

"Weaponizing" enrichment would not escape the notice of UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), unless it was done at a secret location.

Until now there have been no indications of any such covert diversion, a point made by the IAEA's incoming director-general shortly after his election earlier this month.

Current IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei has said it is his "gut feeling" that Iran is seeking at least the capability to build nuclear weapons, in order to protect itself from perceived regional and U.S. threats.

Libyan leader: Peaceful nuclear program should be encouraged

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi says Iran should be encouraged to pursue its nuclear program as long as it is for peaceful purposes.

Gadhafi was addressing Wednesday's opening session of a summit of the Non-Aligned Movement at the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik. The 118-nation group includes Iran.

He said it is "unjust" to stop Iran from enriching uranium for peaceful purposes, but that it must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons.

The United States and Israel say Iran is seeking to acquire nuclear weapons. Iran denies the charge, saying its program is for generating power.

Libya in 2003 abandoned its own program to develop nuclear and chemical weapons.