By Greg Miller
February 13, 2009 “LA Times”
In a reversal since a 2007 report, U.S. officials expect the Islamic Republic to reach development milestones this year.
Reporting from Washington — Little more than a year after U.S. spy agencies concluded that Iran had halted work on a nuclear weapon, the Obama administration has made it clear that it believes there is no question that Tehran is seeking the bomb.
In his news conference this week, President Obama went so far as to describe Iran’s “development of a nuclear weapon” before correcting himself to refer to its “pursuit” of weapons capability.
Obama’s nominee to serve as CIA director, Leon E. Panetta, left little doubt about his view last week when he testified on Capitol Hill. “From all the information I’ve seen,” Panetta said, “I think there is no question that they are seeking that capability.”
US Intel Confirms Iran Not Developing Nukes
The new chief of US intelligence has confirmed the findings of a 2007 intelligence report that Iran has no nuclear weapons program.
Dennis Blair told the Senate Intelligence Committee that his organization has assessed that Tehran does not have nuclear weapons design and weaponization work.
A National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), issued in November 2007 by the sixteen US intelligence agencies, clarified that Iran was not pursuing a nuclear weapons program.
The 2007 intelligence report was widely seen as a setback for Bush administration efforts to pressure Iran and halt its nuclear program.
The UN nuclear watchdog, which has carried out the highest number of inspections in its history on Iranian nuclear sites, has also found nothing to indicate that the program has diverted toward weaponization.
Blair also acknowledged that Tehran has made significant progress in its uranium enrichment program during the past two years.
“Although we do not know whether Iran currently intends to develop nuclear weapons, we assess Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop them,” said the retired admiral.
He, however, did not elaborate on how his organization can assess that Tehran intends at a minimum level to keep open the option to develop nuclear weapons.
The US official added that the intelligence agency believes Iran is unlikely to be able to produce enough enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon before 2013.
“US intelligence assesses that Iran does not currently have a nuclear weapon, and does not yet have enough fissile material for one,” he affirmed.
Blair confirmed that the international community remains divided in dealing with the country’s nuclear drive. Both Russia and China are against the imposition of additional sanctions on Iran over its nuclear activities.
The UN Security Council, influenced by the Bush administration, has intervened in Iran’s nuclear dossier, slapping three rounds of sanctions against Tehran.
Iran, a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), says the only aim of its program is the civilian applications of the technology.
See Also: Iran nuclear weapons
Obama: Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon could profoundly destabilize the Middle East
compiled by Cem Ertür
14 February, 2009
excerpts from: Press Conference by the President
White House Press Office, 9 February 2009
QUESTION: […] What is your strategy for engaging Iran, and when will you start to implement it? Will your timetable be affected at all by the Iranian elections? And are you getting any indications that Iran is interested in a dialogue with the United States?
THE PRESIDENT: I said during the campaign that Iran[‘s] […] attacks or their financing of terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas, the bellicose language that they’ve used towards Israel, their development of a nuclear weapon, or their pursuit of a nuclear weapon — that all those things create the possibility of destabilizing the region and are not only contrary to our interests, but I think are contrary to the interests of international peace.
And it’s important that even as we engage in this direct diplomacy, we are very clear about certain deep concerns that we have as a country — that Iran understands that we find the funding of terrorist organizations unacceptable; that we’re clear about the fact that a nuclear Iran could set off a nuclear arms race in the region that would be profoundly destabilizing.
2/9/09: Presidential Press Conference
February 09, 2009