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Israeli Sources: Iran’s Atomic Program Advancing at “Murderous Pace,” Mullahs Could Have Nukes By Summer

Iran’s nuclear program is moving ahead at a “murderous pace,” a high-level Israeli source said in remarks printed Friday, and Tehran could have a nuclear weapon as early as July.

“The Iranians aren’t messing around after North Korea. What Kim Jong-un has Ahmadinejad has,” the unnamed security source told Maariv, referring to North Korea’s and Iran’s leaders respectively. “At the end of 2012 the Iranians carried out a simulation of a nuclear explosion and since then have been advancing at a murderous pace every day.”

Writing in the paper’s weekend supplement, Maariv journalist Shalom Yerushalmi quoted the source – whom he described as intimately involved in Israeli efforts to thwart Iran’s nuclear program – as saying Tehran could obtain its first nuclear weapon sometime between July and September. There is a fear that Iranian leaders have evaluated that the West is impotent to act against North Korea, and that they will gain more than they lose by breaking out in the near term.

Last year Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the U.N. General Assembly that Iran could have a bomb by spring of this year. In February he spoke to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and emphasized that advanced centrifuges that Iran has been confirmed as installing will “shorten the time that it will take them to cross [the red] line… by one third.” Iran dismissed his comments as laughable and took the opportunity to describe Israel as an “illegitimate regime.”

Speaking to The Tower on the matter, Ilan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council, said that Netanyahu’s evaluation should not have come as a shock. “The Islamic Republic continues to work diligently to increase both the sophistication and the pace of its nuclear development. This step is part of that pattern,” said Berman, a leading Iran authority, “If we assume they are going slow, we are liable to be unpleasantly surprised.”

Before his recent visit to Israel, President Barack Obama told Israeli media that he believes Tehran is at least one year away. He added that his administration would view a move to weaponization as a “red line,” and that “obviously we don’t want to cut it too close.”

Obama reiterated that a nuclear Iran would be a danger to Israel, to the world, and to U.S. national security, and that window of time for a peaceful resolution to the crisis is closing. The Iranians, he said, “are not yet at the point, I think, where they have made a fundamental decision to get right with the international community … I do think they are recognizing that there is a severe cost to continue on the path they are on and that there is another door open.”

[Photo: NanKing2012 / Wiki Commons]