Obama: Iran is 'a year or more' away from nuke weapon

Updated: 2013-10-05 23:35


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WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama has said Iran is still "a year or more" away from building a nuclear weapon, citing US intelligence assessments.

Obama made the remarks in an interview released Saturday by the Associated Press.

He admitted that these assessments are "more conservative" than the Israelis, who claim Iran is just months away from acquiring nuclear capability.

Obama added that the world must test whether Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is sincere about seeking a diplomatic solution to the nuclear standoff.

Obama and Rouhani held a phone talk on September 27, after the Iranian President attended the U.N. General Assembly in New York, during which he called for solving Iran's nuclear issue in a diplomatic way. This was the first communication between the two countries' leaders in more than 30 years.

However, during a meeting with Obama at the White House on September 30, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed deep mistrust toward Rouhani's conciliatory overture. And he urged the US to keep economic sanctions on Iran in place.

Talking about the ongoing government shutdown, Obama said he was willing to negotiate with the Republicans over changes to his signature health care law, known as Obamacare. But he refused to do so until Congress reopens the government and agrees to raise the debt ceiling.