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Israel Says Iran Close to Nuclear Capability

Israel also alarmed by Iran's recent test firing of its longest-range missile, previous threats by Iran's president

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Robert Berger

Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak says Iran is moving quickly toward the "point of no return."  Speaking behind closed doors to the parliamentary Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Barak said Iran will have the technology to build a nuclear bomb by early next year and could produce one in 2011.

Cabinet Minister Yuval Steinitz is a former chairman of the committee.

"Iran is trying to gain nuclear weapons.  And if nothing serious, nothing dramatic will be done by the West, it will get there in a year or two," he said.

Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but Steinitz says Israel has proof that the Islamic Republic is building the atom bomb.

"There are good, I would say even excellent evidence and intelligence showing that this is the case.  And this is crystal clear to all Western intelligence services," he added.

Israel is alarmed by Iran's recent test firing of its longest-range missile and previous threats by its president to wipe the Jewish state "off the map."  So Israeli leaders are calling for tougher international sanctions on Iran before it is too late.

But Israel has warned time and again that if diplomacy fails, it might launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.

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