January 19, 2007 / 1:06 AM / 12 years ago

Iran could have nuclear bomb by 2015: Germany

A security car passes in front of the Isfahan nuclear facility, Iran November 20, 2004. Iran is unlikely to be able to develop a nuclear bomb before 2015, the chief of Germany's BND foreign intelligence agency said on Tuesday. REUTERS/Fars News Agency

BERLIN (Reuters) - Iran is unlikely to be able to develop a nuclear bomb before 2015, the chief of Germany’s BND foreign intelligence agency said on Tuesday.

His estimate falls within the 3-10 year range of forecasts given by most international experts.

“It is difficult to give an exact estimate of the time,” BND head Ernst Uhrlau told a security conference organized by the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

“According to the current rate of enrichment, the Islamic Republic will not have sufficient amounts of highly enriched uranium with which to build atomic weapons before 2010. For a nuclear bomb we are looking at around 2015,” said Uhrlau.

Iran is OPEC’s second biggest oil exporter and denies accusations from the United States and other western nations that it wants to make nuclear weapons.

Tehran is in a standoff with the international community over its program to develop nuclear technology which it says it needs to meet booming energy needs.

Talks between Iran and the European Union to explore a compromise on enrichment to avoid U.N. sanctions have collapsed.

Iran is hoping Russia and China, both major trade partners and Security Council veto holders, will prevent the United States from pushing through anything more than largely symbolic sanctions.

Earlier this month the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to impose financial and weapons sanctions on North Korea after it conducted a nuclear test.

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