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Israel’s prime minister has claimed that Iran will be on the brink of building a nuclear weapon in just six or seven months.

Benjamin Netanyahu went on American TV to press home directly his belief that the US must set clear limits beyond which Iran must not go if it is to avoid military action.

On NBC’s Meet the Press, he said “I think that as they (Iran) get closer and closer and closer to the achievement of weapons grade material – they’re very close, they’re six months away from being about ninety percent of having the enriched uranium for an atom bomb – I think you have to place that red line before them now, before it’s too late.”

While Israel and the US play out a very public spat over how much time to give Iran, senior Israeli defence official Amos Gilad gave a strong signal that there would be no unilateral military action against Tehran.

Iran has always denied western suspicions that its nuclear programme is aimed at making weapons. Tehran has always maintained it is only for making energy or medical isotopes.

Nevertheless just last week the International Atomic Energy Agency censured Iran for ignoring international calls to rein in its uranium enrichment programme, and failing to address mounting concern about its suspected weapons research.

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