Monday, December 3

Iran halted nuke weapons program in 2003 according to latest US National Intelligence Estimate report

The consensus view of 16 US intelligence agencies is that Iran halted its weapons project in 2003 because it feared international sanctions:
By Greg Miller, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
December 3, 2007

WASHINGTON -- U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that the threat of international sanctions has worked in compelling the Islamic republic to back away from its pursuit of the bomb.
These judgments were among the key findings of a long-awaited intelligence report in which U.S. spy agencies retreated from earlier assessments that were more hard-line in their view of Iran's nuclear ambitions and intentions.

The document, and the nuanced tone it strikes toward Iran, is likely to generate fierce new debate within the U.S. government, challenging the positions of officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, who have urged taking a hard line against Tehran.

The report also concludes that Iran "does not currently have a nuclear weapon," and that the country is unlikely to be capable of producing enough highly enriched uranium to make a bomb before 2009 at the earliest.

The findings were included in a National Intelligence Estimate titled "Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities" that represents a consensus view of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies.

"We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program," the report says. "We also assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons."

But the intelligence community also acknowledged that emerging evidence has forced analysts to alter their views on Iran's intentions and capabilities. The changes portray Iran as more responsive to international pressure than previously thought.

"Tehran's decisions are guided by a cost-benefit approach rather than a rush to a weapon irrespective of the political, economic and military cost," the report concludes. Overall, the report notes that Iran "is less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005."

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