Iran now could produce enough weapons-grade uranium to arm a nuclear bomb within two to four months but would still face serious “engineering challenges” — and much longer delays — before it would be able to use the material in an atomic warhead, a respected U.S. think tank said Monday.

While Iran denies any interest in possessing nuclear arms, the international community fears it may turn its peaceful uranium enrichment program toward weapons making — a concern that is growing as Tehran expands the number of machines it uses to enrich as well as its stockpile of enriched uranium. And as apprehension increases, so does anxiety that Israel will make good on threats to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities before that nation reaches the bomb-making threshold.

In a strident call for an internationally drawn “red line” on what he said was Iran’s move toward nuclear arms, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sept. 28 the world has until next summer at the latest to stop Tehran before it can build an atomic bomb. Flashing a diagram of a cartoon-like bomb before the U.N. General Assembly, he said Iran was ready to move to the “final stage” of making such a weapon by then.

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