Pentagon sees Iran with bomb in 5 years: report

Date: 08-31-06

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military is operating on the assumption that Tehran is five to eight years away from being able to build a nuclear bomb, The Washington Times reported in its Thursday edition.

The five-year window provides the Bush administration time to decide whether to launch air strikes to cripple Tehran's atomic program, the newspaper said, citing defense sources familiar with discussions inside the Pentagon.

But the sources said that they suspect the projected time-frame underestimates Iran's determination to build a bomb as quickly as possible, the newspaper reported.

Asked about the report, a Pentagon spokesman said the U.S military never comments on contingency planning.

"The United States government has been very clear about its approach to dealing with Iran. The president and the State Department are working diligently with the international community to include organizations like the IAEA ( International Atomic Energy Agency) and the United Nations to address diplomatically the troublesome activities of the Iranian government," Air Force Maj. Patrick Ryder, said in an e-mail response to Reuters.

The U.N. Security Council has given Iran a Thursday deadline to stop enriching uranium, a process that can yield fuel for nuclear bombs or power plants, or face possible sanctions.

Washington has called for a swift response if Iran does not meet the UN deadline.

The United States and other major powers have accused Iran of trying to make a nuclear bomb. Tehran insists it will not halt its nuclear activities, which it contends are to generate energy.


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