Robertson claimed Iran "now has atomic weapons" -- U.S. intel community disagrees
Pat Robertson claimed that Iran "now has atomic weapons," even though the U.S. intelligence community, as well as independent experts, agree that Iran is years away from having the capability to manufacture nuclear weapons.
On the May 2 edition of the Christian Broadcasting Network's The 700 Club, host Pat Robertson  claimed that Iran "now has atomic weapons," even though, the U.S. intelligence community, as well as independent experts, agree that Iran is years away from having the capability to manufacture nuclear weapons.
After examining the politics of Israel's secular and religious communities, Robertson said he recently "read the 38th chapter of Ezekiel" "to see a war" where "states in that region" join "to move against Israel." Robertson then stated, "It's amazing that Iran has come to the fore as it has with a president who says Israel should be wiped off the map, who ... now has atomic weapons," adding that "[a] year ago, the Lord told me ... that Israel was entering into the most dangerous time in its existence," and "confirmed this again in January."
Media Matters for America has previously rebutted  assertions made by other conservative commentators and media outlets that Iran currently possesses nuclear weapons or that it is close to having the capability to manufacture them. Robertson's claim is contradicted by public estimates provided by the U.S. intelligence community and independent experts.
For example, The New York Times reported  on March 5 that "American intelligence agencies say it will take 5 to 10 years for Iran to manufacture the fuel for its first atomic bomb." After Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced  on April 11 that his country had enriched a small quantity of uranium and was researching technology to enhance its enrichment capabilities -- a necessary step to produce the highly enriched uranium necessary for a nuclear weapon -- the Times reported  on April 17 that "[i]f Iran moved beyond research and actually began running the machines, it could force American intelligence agencies to revise their estimates of how long it would take for Iran to build an atom bomb -- an event they now put somewhere between 2010 and 2015." According to an April 14 New York Times article , Thomas Fingar , the deputy director of national intelligence for analysis, "said the official view of the [U.S.] intelligence agencies remained that Iran was unlikely to have nuclear weapons before 2010 at the earliest." A March 27 issue brief  on Iran's nuclear program by David Albright  and Corey Hinderstein of the Institute for Science and International Security  stated that "Iran could have its first nuclear weapon in 2009." They noted, however, that "[t]his result reflects a worst case assessment, and Iran can be expected to take longer," because "Iran is likely to encounter technical difficulties."
Robertson recently mentioned the threat of nuclear attack as justification for calling for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. As Media Matters noted  at the time, Robertson explained that "one day," Chavez will "be aiming nuclear weapons; and what's coming across the Gulf [of Mexico] isn't going to be [Hurricane] Katrina, it's going to be his nukes."
From the May 2 edition of the Christian Broadcasting Network's The 700 Club:
ROBERTSON: It's shocking what's happening. And I got home over the weekend and read the 38th chapter of Ezekiel, once again, to see a war that is forecast where a nation identified as Russia and possibly some of the Caucasian states, maybe Turkey, but some of those states in that region, join with Iran, Libya, and the Sudan to move against Israel. A great horde of people to come against Israel, re-gathered from the nations in the latter days.
It's amazing that Iran has come to the fore as it has with a president who says Israel should be wiped off the map, who -- it now has atomic weapons. And a year ago, the Lord told me, as I was praying, that Israel was entering into the most dangerous time in its existence as a nation. He confirmed this again in January, and lo and behold, the events in the -- in the current affairs just keep tumbling, tumbling, tumbling upon us. And I look in disbelief.