By Carlo Muñoz - 03/17/13 04:01 PM EDT
A top House Republican is casting doubt on President Obama's assertion that it will be nearly a year until Iran will be able to develop a nuclear weapon.
"I wouldn't be as certain where the president is [on the timeline] and the Israelis believe it's going to be sooner than that," House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said Sunday on CNN's State of the Union.
During an interview with Israeli television last Thursday, Obama said that Tehran is still over a year away from building a viable ballistic weapon.
“Right now, we think it would take over a year or so for Iran to actually develop a nuclear weapon, but obviously we don’t want to cut it too close,” Obama said.
Rogers comments also come ahead of Obama's scheduled visit to Israel this week, to discuss the Iranian nuclear program and other shared national security priorities, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Israeli prime minster has openly challenged the White House's strategy of economic and political sanctions against Iran, questioning whether they are doing anything to slow down Tehran’s nuclear program.
Obama has said those measures need more time to work and will eventually bring Iran to the negotiating table.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and CIA Director John Brennan told members of the Senate Intelligence committee last Tuesday that the slew of economic and political sanctions levied by the White House on Iran was working.
Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the House intelligence panel, noted U.S. and Israeli ties have " not been what it should be," particularly on the issue of Iran's nuclear ambitions. But he said he was optimistic Obama's trip to Israel should go a long way toward reinforcing the alliance.
On Sunday, the Maryland Democrat made clear that Washington and Jerusalem were on the same page in their efforts to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power, regardless of how soon each country believes Tehran could meet that goal.
"Whether it's short or long, I think it's important to know and especially for Israel to know that President Obama has clearly said that we will not tolerate them having a nuclear weapon," Ruppersberger said.
"You can't trust Iran. They're a rogue nation. They're exporting terrorism . . . [and] we have to deal with that issue," he added. "With the president going to Israel . . . there, hopefully, will be some agreement between Netanyahu and the president."