Iran has overcome technical difficulties in enriching uranium and could have enough bomb-grade material for a single nuclear weapon in less than three years, CBS News reported Thursday night.
The report was based on an intelligence analysis conducted by David Albright, a leading expert, who thinks that the official international estimates do not give Iranian scientists enough credit.
According to CBS News, US intelligence officials estimated that would take Iran until 2015 to become a nuclear power, as it would have to make further technical progress in operating a uranium enrichment plant now under construction.
"I think Iran can get enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon sooner than that," Albright says. "I think the 2015 number reflects too much skepticism about Iran's technical capabilities, and they are making progress."
Although US intelligence still considers an Iranian nuclear weapon by 2010 as a worst-case scenario, CBS said, Pentagon officials say the new report narrows the window in which Israel might launch a preemptive strike against Iran, as Israel is the country most threatened by the prospect of an Iranian nuclear weapon.
According to the CBS report, former CIA officer Bruce Riedel says this latest intelligence would increase the chances of an Israeli strike launched with American-built warplanes, CBS reported.
"The Israelis have long believed that Iran is closer than US intelligence believes it is," Riedel says. "If they now hear that the Americans think it's getting closer as well, it puts pressure on Israel to take its own action."