News / Middle East

Gates: No Iranian Nuclear Weapon for 'At Least a Year'

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U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says he does not expect Iran to have a capacity to produce nuclear weapons for at least a year.

Gates made the comment Tuesday on a flight to South America.  He was responding to a declaration by a top Iranian nuclear official that Iran will join the "world nuclear club" within a month to deter possible attacks on the country.

Iran's Fars news agency quotes the deputy head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization as saying "no country would even think about attacking Iran" after it joins the nuclear club.

Fars also quotes the official, Behzad Soltani, as saying Iran plans to expand nuclear technology for "purposes other than energy and fuel production."

In Washington, U.S. President Barack Obama urged the international community to move "quickly and boldly" on a new set of sanctions against Iran for its nuclear defiance.   

Speaking Tuesday at the Washington nuclear summit, Mr. Obama said sanctions are not a definite solution to the Iranian nuclear dispute but will hopefully influence Iran to think twice about developing atomic weapons.

The United States and its Western allies accuse Iran of working to create nuclear weapons.  Iran says its atomic program is peaceful.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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