US envoy Glyn Davies told a gathering of the International Atomic Energy Agency's Board of Governors on Wednesday that Iran has probably already stockpiled enough enriched uranium to build at least one nuclear bomb.
Davies and other US officials concluded earlier in the year that Iran would not be able to field a nuclear weapon until 2013, at the earliest, and IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei insisted last month that the Iran nuclear scare was "exaggerated."
But those positions were quickly reassessed at Wednesday's meeting, where the US and its European partners agreed to urgently prod Iran to enter serious negotiations over its nuclear program.
"Iran is now either very near or in possession already of sufficient low-enriched uranium to produce one nuclear weapon if the decision were made to further enrich it to weapons-grade ... (This) moves Iran closer to a dangerous and destabilizing possible breakout capacity," said Davies in remarks carried by Reuters.
Iran reportedly responded to the renewed pressure by promising to start talks with Western power brokers "very soon," but observers noted that if Iran is really so close to building a nuclear bomb, there may be nothing left to talk about.