Ehud Barak's assertion that Iran has "essentially delayed their arrival at the red line by eight months," is in line with the timeframe laid out by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in September, when he spoke at the U.N. General Assembly. There, Netanyahu said the world has until next summer at the latest to stop Iran before it can build a nuclear bomb. The West suspects Iran may be aiming toward production of nuclear weapons and has imposed a series of sanctions on the regime.
U.S. lawmakers are currently working on a set of new sanctions that could prevent Iran from doing business with most of the world until it agrees to internationally demanded constraints on its nuclear program. Iran denies it is trying to build a bomb, insisting its program is for peaceful purposes. However, it has restricted access of U.N. inspectors to the country's nuclear sites.
Officials from the U.N. nuclear watchdog — the International Atomic Energy Agency — said Friday they would meet with Iranian officials in Tehran next month in an attempt to restart stalled nuclear talks. It would be the first such meeting since early summer, when talks halted over Iran's reluctance to allow IAEA into sites the agency suspects could have been used in secret work on nuclear weapons.
Israel sees Iran's nuclear program as an existential threat, citing Iranian denials of the Holocaust, its calls for Israel's destruction, its development of missiles capable of striking the Jewish state and its support for anti-Israel militant groups. Barak's comments, made during an interview late Thursday on Israel's Channel 2 TV, appeared to be based on an August report by the IAEA. The report said that Iran has converted much of its higher-level enriched uranium into a powder for a medical research reactor that is difficult to reprocess for weapons production.
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