Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday took a swipe at U.N. nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei for saying there was no clear and present danger from Iran's nuclear programme.
ElBaradei, the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said in an interview with Le Monde newspaper that Iran would need "between three and eight years" to develop a nuclear bomb and that there was no immediate threat.
"If ElBaradei thinks that an Iranian bomb in three years time does not bother him, it certainly worries me, even extremely," Olmert told journalists in Paris after meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
"If it's three years, this is very near and extremely concerning," he said, adding dryly: "It would be better if ElBaradei made an effort to prevent them from obtaining a bomb."
ElBaradei had said earlier that "all the intelligence services agree that supposing Iran does intend to acquire a nuclear bomb, it would need between another three and eight years to succeed."
ElBaradei said force should be used only when all diplomatic options have failed, adding there was plenty of time for diplomacy, sanctions, dialogue and incentives to bear fruit.
"I want to get people away from the idea that Iran will be a threat from tomorrow, and that we are faced right now with the issue of whether Iran should be bombed or allowed to have the bomb," the Nobel peace prize winner said.
"We are not at all in that situation. Iraq is a glaring example of how, in many cases, the use of force exacerbates the problem rather than solving it."
U.S.wont allow it
Meanwhile on Sunday U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney described Iran as an obstacle to peace in the Middle East and said the world could not stand by and allow it to develop a nuclear weapon.
Cheney's comments underscored a ratcheting up of U.S. rhetoric toward Tehran and came just days after President George W. Bush warned that a nuclear-armed Iran could lead to World War Three.
"The Iranian regime needs to know that if it stays on its present course, the international community is prepared to impose serious consequences," Cheney told a forum organized by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
"The United States joins other nations in sending a clear message: We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon."
"Our country and the entire international community cannot stand by as a terror-supporting state fulfills its most aggressive ambitions," he said.