JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday the full extent of Iran’s nuclear programme was not reflected in a recent U.N. report, which said that Tehran appeared to have worked on designing an atomic bomb.
“Iran is closer to getting an (atomic) bomb than is thought,” Netanyahu said in remarks to cabinet ministers, quoted by an official from his office.
“Only things that could be proven were written (in the U.N. report), but in reality there are many other things that we see,” Netanyahu said, according to the official.
The Israeli leader did not specify what additional information he had about Iran’s nuclear programme during his cabinet’s discussion on the report by the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released last week.
At the start of meeting, Netanyahu made a broadcast repeating his call for the world “to stop Iran’s race to arm itself with a nuclear weapon before it is too late”.
Iran has dismissed accusations that it is developing nuclear weapons and says it needs atomic technology for electricity and other peaceful projects. it called the IAEA report “unbalanced” and “politically motivated”.
The IAEA paper has intensified media speculation that the United States or Israel might take military action against Iran to destroy its nuclear programme.
The U.N. nuclear watchdog said it had “credible” information that Iran had built a large explosives vessel to conduct hydrodynamic experiments, which are “strong indicators of possible weapon development”.
Both Washington and Israel have said they are keeping all options on the table to stop Tehran developing a nuclear bomb.
Israel, a close strategic ally of Western powers, is widely believed to have the Middle East region’s only nuclear arsenal, dating back decades. It has never confirmed or denied this, under a policy of ambiguity designed to deter attacks.
Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Andrew Heavens