International sanctions have delayed Iran's efforts to develop atomic weapons, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday.
"The most recent analysis is that the sanctions have been working. They have made it much more difficult for Iran to pursue its nuclear ambitions," she told a pan-Arab television talk show. "Their program, from our best estimate, has been slowed down. So we have time, but not a lot of time."
American officials said they believe the Muslim regime has had difficulties getting the specific type of equipment it needs to build a nuclear weapon.
The U.S. report coincides with last week's Israeli intelligence analysis that said Tehran wouldn't be able to build a nuclear bomb until at least 2015. Many analysts doubt, however, that the Jewish state will attack Iran's nuclear facilities in the near future.
Nevertheless, Clinton insisted the Iran's nuclear ambition remain "a serious concern," and accused the Muslim nation of trying to incite a new conflict in the Middle East.
She urged Arab nations to step up their enforcement of sanctions.
"We cannot let that attention get diverted and we cannot let any outside influence cause a conflict in the Middle East that would be a disaster for everyone," Clinton warned.
"The responsible leadership in the region must do everything it can to prevent anyone from taking action that could launch a conflict," she said.