Another day, another Israeli prediction about when Iran will build a nuclear bomb. This time it comes from Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon, who told Israel Radio:
"I don't know if it will happen in 2011 or in 2012, but we are talking in terms of the next three years."
Yaalon cited technical problems as delaying the Iranian nuclear program, which Iran maintains is not geared toward producing weapons.
He may be right, of course. But as always with such predictions, it's worth keeping in mind historical context. That is to say -- as Salon documented in this timeline -- that Israeli predictions about Iran's nuclear program have been wildly inconsistent and inaccurate for many years.
Yaalon's line, in fact, sounds a lot like what we were hearing in the mid-1990s, as a sample from the timeline shows:
January 1995: "Iran is much closer to producing nuclear weapons than previously thought, and could be less than five years away from having an atomic bomb, several senior American and Israeli officials say."
Source: New York Times, "Iran May Be Able to Build an Atomic Bomb in 5 Years, U.S. and Israeli Officials Fear"
1995: "The best estimates at this time place Iran between three and five years away from possessing the prerequisites required for the independent production of nuclear weapons."
Source: Benjamin Netanyahu, in his book "Fighting Terrorism: How Democracies Can Defeat the International Terrorist Network"