A general who was once in charge of Israel’s nuclear weapons has claimed that Iran is a “very, very, very long way from building a nuclear capability.”

Brigadier-General Uzi Eilam, 75, a war hero and pillar of the defense establishment, believes it will probably take Iran seven years to make nuclear weapons.

The views expressed by the former director-general of Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission contradict the assessment of Israel’s defense establishment and put him at odds with political leaders.

Major-General Amos Yadlin, head of military intelligence, recently told the defense committee of the Knesset that Iran will probably be able to build a single nuclear device this year.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, has repeatedly said that Israel will not tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran. Israeli forces have been in training to attack Iranian nuclear installations and some analysts believe airstrikes could be launched this year if international sanctions fail to deter Tehran from pursuing its program.

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