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Iran Past 'Nuclear Threshold,' Israeli Spymaster Says


Major General Amos Yadlin

Major General Amos Yadlin

JERUSALEM (Reuters) -- Iran has sufficiently mastered nuclear technology to be able to produce a bomb if it chooses, Israel's military intelligence chief has been quoted as saying.

"Iran has crossed the technological threshold," Major General Amos Yadlin told Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's cabinet, according to a government official.

"Reaching a military-grade nuclear capability is a question of synchronizing its strategy with the production of a nuclear bomb," the official quoted Yadlin as saying.

Iran, which denies seeking nuclear weapons, has been producing low-enriched uranium on a scale that Western powers suspect is designed to yield raw material which could be refined to make the highly enriched uranium required for a warhead.

That would require reliable Iranian centrifuges -- the refinement tools long watched by Western and Israeli intelligence -- followed by assembly of an explosive device. Experts say the process would take as little as a few months.

Yadlin accused Iran, which has been the focus of new diplomatic overtures from the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama, of prevaricating.

"Iran continues to stockpile hundreds of kilograms of low-level enriched uranium and hopes to use the dialogue with the West to buy the time it requires in order to move towards an ability to manufacture a nuclear bomb," he said.

Israel, which is assumed to have the Middle East's only nuclear arsenal, has endorsed U.S.-led efforts to talk Tehran into curbing its uranium enrichment. But Israeli officials have also hinted at the possibility of preventive military attacks.
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