by Jerusalem Post
Iran now is at least three years away from being able to produce a nuclear bomb because of technical problems and sanctions, Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon told Voice of Israel government radio Wednesday.
Yaalon, a former IDF Chief of Staff and considered a leading “hawk” on Iran, said that “we are talking in terms of three years” before the Islamic Republic can achieve its presumed aim of producing a nuclear weapon. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said several times that Israel should be destroyed but has insisted that Iran’s nuclear program is intended for peaceful purposes.
debkafile’s intelligence sources note that the current Israeli intelligence timeline for a nuclear-armed Iran was previously 2011. Yaalon did not go into the reasons for the delay, but our sources mention two:
1. His estimate represented the first official Israel evaluation of the scale of the destruction and havoc the Stuxnet malworm has wrought to Iran’s most secret nuclear weaponization facilities. Up until now, only the nuclear reactor at Bushehr and the uranium enrichment plant at Natanz had been admitted to have been affected by the invasive virus.
2. The second factor seriously slowing progress is the tightening ring of sanctions which are keeping Iran from receiving the materials, replacement parts and new electronic and technical systems needed to bring its clandestine military nuclear program to fruition. These revelations came to a head in the last 24 hours for good reason, say debkafile’s intelligence and Iranian sources.
Despite the new time frame, Yaalon said that the United States eventually will have to take actions beyond sanctions to stop Iran, which he said “must choose between continuing to seek nuclear capability and surviving.”
The Obama administration has been hoping that local unrest in Iran will engineer an overthrow of the regime currently headed by Muslim clerics and Ahmadinejad, whose re-election last year was largely viewed as fraudulent, sparking widespread unrest until riot police and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards brutally subdued the protests.