An Israel Cabinet minister says Iran could have nuclear bomb technology in 2008, at least a year earlier than previously believed.

Shaul Mofaz, a former defense minister and military chief, said in a speech Wednesday at Yale University in the United States that Iran could have the knowhow to build nuclear arms within months, his spokeswoman Talia Somech said Thursday. Despite international sanctions meant to persuade Iran to stop the program, Tehran is steadily progressing with its pursuit of nuclear technology, Somech cited Mofaz as saying.

Mofaz is in the U.S. holding talks with American intelligence officials.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office would not comment on Mofaz's new assessment of the Iranian program.

Iran denies it is trying to build bombs, insisting its program is meant to produce energy. But Israel, the U.S. and other countries are skeptical. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has threatened to destroy Israel.

A recent U.S. intelligence assessment maintains Tehran stopped developing a bomb in 2003. Israel insists Tehran continues to aggressively pursue nuclear weapons.