Imminent Iran nuclear threat? A timeline of warnings since 1979.

Breathless warnings that the Islamic Republic will soon be at the brink of nuclear capability have been made for decades. Here is a chronicle of predictions.

By , Staff writer

7. Israel's one-year timeframe disproved: 2010-11

Despite reports and intelligence assessments to the contrary, Israeli and many US officials continue to assume that Iran is determined to have nuclear weapons as soon as possible.

August 2010: An article by Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic's September issue is published online, outlining a scenario in which Israel would chose to launch a unilateral strike against Iran with 100 aircraft, "because a nuclear Iran poses the gravest threat since Hitler to the physical survival of the Jewish people."

Drawing on interviews with "roughly 40 current and past Israeli decision makers about a military strike" and American and Arab officials, Mr. Goldberg predicts that Israel will launch a strike by July 2011. The story notes previous Israeli strikes on nuclear facilities in Iraq and Syria, and quotes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying, "You don't want a messianic apocalyptic cult controlling atomic bombs. When the wide-eyed believer gets hold of the reins of power and the weapons of mass death, then the world should start worrying, and that's what is happening in Iran." 

2010: US officials note that Iran's nuclear program has been slowed by four sets of UN Security Council sanctions and a host of US and EU measures. The Stuxnet computer virus also played havoc through 2011 with Iran's thousands of spinning centrifuges that enrich uranium.

January 2011: When Meir Dagan steps down as director of Israel’s Mossad spy agency, he says that Iran would not be able to produce a nuclear weapon until 2015. "Israel should not hasten to attack Iran, doing so only when the sword is upon its neck," Mr. Dagan warned. Later he said that attacking Iran would be "a stupid idea.... The regional challenge that Israel would face would be impossible."

January 2011: A report by the Federation of American Scientists on Iran's uranium enrichment says there is "no question” that Tehran already has the technical capability to produce a "crude" nuclear device.

February 2011: National intelligence director James Clapper affirms in testimony before Congress that “Iran is keeping the option open to develop nuclear weapons in part by developing various nuclear capabilities and better position it to produce such weapons, should it choose to do so," Mr. Clapper said. "We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons." 

November 2011: The IAEA claims for the first time that Iran is has worked on weapons-related activities for years, publishing detailed information based on more than 1,000 pages of design information that is corroborated, it says, by data from 10 member states and its own investigation and interviews.

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