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Official: Iran "not likely" to have nuclear capabilities by 2010
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09:17, September 16, 2008

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Iran is "not likely" to obtain nuclear capabilities by 2010, an Israeli military intelligence official said Monday.

"The most optimistic scenario as far as the Iranians are concerned is that they will have obtained nuclear capabilities by 2010. However, such a scenario is not likely," Yossi Baidatz, head of the research division of Israeli military intelligence, was quoted by local daily Yedioth Ahronoth as saying.

However, the international community does not show any effort to stall Iran's ambition while the Islamic Republic is continuing to advance its nuclear technology, Baidatz, a brigadier general, told the Knesset (parliament) Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

The United States, Israel and their Western allies accuse Iran of secretly developing nuclear weapons, but Iran denies the charge, insisting that its nuclear program is only for civil purposes.

Addressing Syria, Baidatz said that Syria is moving forward along the path of peace and openness toward the West while simultaneously "strengthening its ties to the radical axis."

As for Israel's northern border, the intelligence official said Lebanese militant group Hezbollah may attempt to shoot down any Israeli aircraft that enters Lebanese airspace, adding that the group's armament is also continuing.

The transfer of arms to Hezbollah from Iran and Syria is continuing in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the Second Lebanon War in 2006, added Baidatz.

Turning to Hamas, the intelligence official told the members of Knesset that Hamas is arming itself with Qassam rockets and is obtaining capabilities that may threaten Israel's home front.

Hamas is also improving its defense capabilities in case of an Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip, he said, adding that "the Islamist group is turning Gaza into a bona fide state. Hamas is the clear and decisive ruler there."

The smuggling of weapons and goods into the Strip through the Rafah border crossing is continuing despite the Egyptians' efforts to prevent it, Baidatz added.


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