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Published on February 10th, 2011 | by Jim Lobe

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Latest Intelligence Community Assessment of Iran’s Nuclear Program

From DNI James Clapper’s prepared testimony today before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

The Iranian regime continues to flout UN Security Council restrictions on its nuclear and missile
programs. There is a real risk that its nuclear program will prompt other countries in the Middle East
to pursue nuclear options.

We continue to assess Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons in part by
developing various nuclear capabilities that better position it to produce such weapons, should it
choose to do so. We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.

One of the most important capabilities Iran is developing is uranium enrichment, which can be
used for either civil or weapons purposes. As reported by the International Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA), the number of centrifuges installed at Irans enrichment plant has grown significantly from
about 3,000 centrifuges in late 2007 to over 8,000 currently installed. At the same time, the number
of operating centrifuges that are enriching uranium has grown at a much slower pace from about
3,000 centrifuges in late 2007 to about 4,800 in late 2010. Iran has used these centrifuges to produce
more than 3,000 kilograms of low enriched uranium.

Iran’s technical advancement, particularly in uranium enrichment, strengthens our assessment
that Iran has the scientific, technical, and industrial capacity to eventually produce nuclear weapons,
making the central issue its political will to do so.
These advancements contribute to our judgment
that Iran is technically capable of producing enough highly enriched uranium for a weapon in the
next few years, if it chooses to do so.

We judge Iran would likely choose missile delivery as its preferred method of delivering a
nuclear weapon. Iran already has the largest inventory of ballistic missiles in the Middle East. It
continues to expand the scale, reach and sophistication of its ballistic missile forces, many of which
are inherently capable of carrying a nuclear payload.

We continue to judge Iran’ nuclear decisionmaking is guided by a cost-benefit approach, which
offers the international community opportunities to influence Tehran. Iranian leaders undoubtedly
consider Iran’ security, prestige and influence, as well as the international political and security
environment, when making decisions about its nuclear program.

Not much different from the year before, as I recall, or the year before that. Still no affirmation that Iran has a nuclear-weapons program.

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3 Responses to Latest Intelligence Community Assessment of Iran’s Nuclear Program

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  1. avatar Jon Harrison says:

    Quite. But wouldn’t it be prudent to assume the worst? That doesn’t mean preemptive military action is called for (it obviously isn’t), but surely it’s better to assume the worst rather than simply hope for the best? “Contingencies unprovided for are those most likely to arise.” Anyone who can name the author of the quotation gets a prize. (I won’t bother to say what the prize is, because I know that no one will guess correctly. I’m not the author, by the way.)

  2. avatar scott says:

    I agree with you Jon. As to the quote, a google search gave nothing. It sound’s Nixonian, could be Rummy, Agnew or Cheney.

  3. avatar Jon Harrison says:

    Not even close. You won’t find it in cyberspace. Try 20th century British literary figures.


About the Author

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Jim Lobe served for some 30 years as the Washington DC bureau chief for Inter Press Service and is best known for his coverage of U.S. foreign policy and the influence of the neoconservative movement.



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  • Named after veteran journalist Jim Lobe, LobeLog provides daily expert perspectives on US foreign policy toward the Middle East through investigative reports and analyses from Washington to Tehran and beyond. It became the first weblog to receive the Arthur Ross Award for Distinguished Reporting and Analysis of Foreign Affairs from the American Academy of Diplomacy in 2015.

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