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Monday, December 3, 2007

Stepping back from the brink of war

The National Intelligence Council (NIC) has presented a consensus view of all 16 American security and intelligence agencies that Iran does not possess Nuclear weapons, nor does it currently have the capability to produce them.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence today declassified the findings from the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran. NIEs are the Intelligence Community’s most authoritative written judgments on national security issues and are designed to help US civilian and military leaders develop policies to protect US national security interests. The findings are as follows:
  • We assess with high confidence that until fall 2003, Iranian military entities were working under government direction to develop nuclear weapons.

  • We judge with high confidence that the halt lasted at least several years.

  • We assess with moderate confidence Tehran had not restarted its nuclear weapons program as of mid-2007, but we do not know whether it currently intends to develop nuclear weapons.

  • We continue to assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Iran does not currently have a nuclear weapon.

  • Tehran’s decision to halt its nuclear weapons program suggests it is less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005. Our assessment that the program probably was halted primarily in response to international pressure suggests Iran may be more vulnerable to influence on the issue than we judged previously.
The report goes on to conclude:
"We judge with moderate confidence Iran probably would be technically capable of producing enough HEU [Highly Enriched Uranium] for a weapon sometime during the 2010-2015 time frame. (INR [Bureau of Intelligence and Research] judges Iran is unlikely to achieve this capability before 2013 because of
foreseeable technical and programmatic problems.) All agencies recognize the possibility that this capability may not be attained until after 2015."

Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence Dr. Donald M. Kerr writes of the NIE findings:
"The decision to release an unclassified version of the Key Judgments of this NIE was made when it was determined that doing so was in the interest of our nation’s security. The Intelligence Community is on the record publicly with numerous statements based on our 2005 assessment on Iran. Since our understanding of Iran’s capabilities has changed, we felt it was important to release this information to ensure that an accurate presentation is available. While the decision to release the declassified Key Judgments was coordinated in discussion with senior policy makers, the IC [Intelligence Community] took responsibility for what portions of the NIE Key Judgments were to be declassified. These unclassified Key Judgments are consistent with the findings of this National Intelligence Estimate."

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