Israeli estimates of when Iran will be able to build a nuclear bomb have been shifted two more years to 2007, an intelligence report said Wednesday and analysts credited the delay to international scrutiny of Tehran.
Security sources quoted the report -- delivered to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in private and leaked in part to the media -- as saying that within three years Iran would have the means to produce an atomic bomb by itself.
Iran vehemently denies pursuing nuclear weapons, arguing its atomic ambitions are limited to generating electricity.
Tehran officials have also accused Israel of trying to distract the international community from its own assumed nuclear arsenal and stoking world opinion against the last Middle East foe which could challenge it militarily.
In 2000, Israeli security sources told Reuters that Iran would be nuclear-capable within five years and was developing long-range missiles with which to lob warheads at Tel Aviv.
The regional picture has since changed, with a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq bringing neighboring Iran under closer watch by the West -- especially after Tehran admitted in November to buying centrifuges used to enrich uranium from a black market set up by Pakistani nuclear weapons expert Abdul Qadeer Khan.
The BOP conjectures are starting to look a tad, well, unconjectural.