News / Middle East

Obama: Iran at Least a Year Away From Building Nuclear Weapon

President Barack Obama speaks during an exclusive interview with the Associated Press in the White House library in Washington, Oct. 4, 2013.
President Barack Obama speaks during an exclusive interview with the Associated Press in the White House library in Washington, Oct. 4, 2013.
VOA News
U.S. President Barack Obama says U.S. intelligence estimates show Iran is "a year or more away" from building a nuclear weapon.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Obama acknowledged that U.S. estimates were more conservative than those of Israel, which said Iran was much closer that that to building an atomic weapon.

President Obama also said the world must test whether Iran's President Hassan Rouhani was serious about resolving its nuclear dispute diplomatically.

His comments come after he held a short phone conversation with Rouhani on September 20, in the first direct contact between the two countries' top leadership in more than three decades.

The contact capped a week of outreach to the West by Rouhani and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, during the annual opening session of the U.N. General Assembly.

On Saturday, Iran's supreme leader voiced support for Rouhani's overtures to the West, but he said some aspects of his trip to New York last month were "not appropriate."

In remarks posted on his website, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei did not elaborate on his objections, but it would appear they center on Rouhani's conversation with Obama.

The ayatollah said the U.S. government was not trustworthy and broke its promises.

The commander of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, called Rouhani's decision to engage in the phone conversation a "tactical mistake."

The issue underlying the two presidents' conversation - and most all other aspects of the arms-length relationship between Washington and Tehran - concerns Western efforts to resolve the standoff with Iran over its nuclear development program. I

ran has insisted its nuclear work is purely for peaceful purposes, but the U.S. and many of its allies disagree, contending that Iran has embarked on a secret program to build nuclear weapons, with missiles capable of striking at Israel and other countries in the Middle East.

Working through the U.N. Security Council, the U.S., Britain, France and others have imposed several rounds of sanctions that have badly battered Iran's economy.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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Comment Sorting
by: Ajax from: Lessome
October 08, 2013 1:57 PM
I would have to agree. Iran has already enriched more than sufficient uranium material to build a nuclear weapon. The fact that is converting some of its excess material into a gas form (which by the way can be readily converted back to weapon's grade material) still leaves an abundant amount for Iran to build the first of its nuclear arsenal. The real issue has been the fact that Iran has built a massive centrifuge capability to enrich all the material it needs at any time. It has already built 18,000 of them with 10,000 in operation, more than sufficient. What matters is if the West can force Rouhani and Khamenei to give up their nuclear ambitions with concrete action and not simply talk. It's highly doubtful given Rouhani's long and loyal service to the regime as outlined at the site The only real hope is to continue economic pressure on the regime leadership and enable regime change through the Iranian people.

by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
October 06, 2013 11:43 PM
The new leader of Iran deserves to be given the FULL, not half or partial, benefit of doubt. Rouhani's conciliatory gestures should be welcomed by the West. It's understandable that Israel has legitimate reason to show sceptical about Iran's political activities.

by: Mladen Andrijasevic from: Be'er Sheva, Israel
October 06, 2013 3:03 AM
And we are supposed to believe him after the Syria flip-flop?
Standing Alone - Churchill 1940 - Netanyahu 2013

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