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Iran Nuclear Issues: Iran National Intelligence Estimate

In December 2007 the United States National Intelligence Estimate (that represents the consensus view of all 16 American spy agencies) judged with “high confidence” that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003, with “moderate confidence” that the program remains frozen, and with moderate-to-high confidence” that Iran is “keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons.” The new estimate says that the enrichment program could still provide Iran with enough raw material to produce a nuclear weapon sometime by the middle of next decade but that intelligence agencies “do not know whether it currently intends to develop nuclear weapons” at some future date. Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, said he hoped the administration would “appropriately adjust its rhetoric and policy”. The conclusion that Iran had a nuclear weapons program in 2003 was reportedly mainly based on the contents of a laptop computer that was allegedly stolen from Iran and provided to US intelligence agencies by dissidents. The Russians dismissed this conclusion, stating that they had not seen evidence that Iran had ever pursued a nuclear weapons program.

The 2007 NIE report, allegedly based on new evidence, differed from the previous 2005 NIE conclusion which asserted that Iran had an active and on-going nuclear weapons program in 2005. According to a senior administration official, in a January 2008 conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Israeli and other foreign officials asked President Bush to explain the 2007 NIE. Bush told the Israelis that he can’t control what the intelligence community says, but that (the NIE’s) conclusions don’t reflect his own views”. After Bush seemed to distance himself from the report, the White House later said Bush endorses the “full scope” of the US intelligence findings on Iran.

The Declaration of the Non-Aligned Movement

  • On September 16, 2006, in Havana, Cuba, all of the 118 Non-Aligned Movement member countries, at the summit level, declared that they were supporting Iran’s nuclear program for civilian purposes in their final written statement. The Non-Aligned Movement represents a majority of the 192 countries comprising the entire United Nations.
  • - Several nations, including Argentina and Brazil, have recently developed nuclear enrichment capabilities that Iran is developing, and more may seek the technology in order to have an independent, secure source of fuel for their nuclear energy programs as nuclear energy becomes more popular in the future. Driving this process, in part, is the perception that all countries will soon be divided into uranium enrichment “haves” (suppliers) and (customers) under various proposals to establish multinational nuclear fuel centers and fuel-supply arrangements. Some - developing nations are sceptical of the intentions of the five original nuclear states and are reluctant to give up the option of enriching uranium. Developing nations say they don’t want to give up their rights to uranium enrichment and don’t trust the United States or other nuclear countries to be consistent suppliers of the nuclear material they would need to run their power plants.

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