Report alters Iran nukes outlook / Intelligence chief to face Senate panel this week (WASHINGTON TIMES) By Bill Gertz 03/08/11)
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An annual intelligence report to Congress has dropped language
stating that Iran´s nuclear weapons ambitions are a future option.
The revision comes as U.S. intelligence agencies recently altered a
controversial 2007 intelligence assessment that said Iran halted work
on nuclear arms in 2003 and was keeping open its options for building
an atomic weapon.
The deleted language also had stated for two years that Iran was
keeping open the option to build atomic weapons. However, the latest
report to Congress, which was made public Feb. 23, no longer states
that Iran´s building a weapon is an option.
A U.S. official insisted there was no "sleight-of-hand" in the change
but could not explain why the recent report was altered from two
The omitted language is expected to be included in the prepared
statement of Director of National IntelligenceJames Clapper when he
appears before the Senate Armed Services Committee this week.
U.S. officials declined to discuss the revision to the 2007 National
Intelligence Estimate (NIE) with regard to Iran´s nuclear program,
saying there are no plans to make the changes public, although
Congress will be briefed formally next week.
Officials also said there were no differences between the CIA´s
Weapons, Intelligence, Nonproliferation and Arms Control Center
(WINPAC), which produced the report, and the National Intelligence
Council under Mr. Clapper that "coordinated" the final report.
The omitted language said U.S. intelligence agencies "continue to
assess Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons
though we do not know whether Tehran eventually will decide to
produce nuclear weapons."
Also left out of the report is the statement that "Iran continues to
develop a range of capabilities that could be applied to producing
nuclear weapons if a decision is made to do so."
Mr. Clapper was asked during a Feb. 16 hearing about the language and
said intelligence agencies were finishing a "memorandum for holders"
of the NIE that he said was an update of the 2007 Iran assessment.
That NIE, which was partially released to the public, was widely
criticized by current and former intelligence officials for stating
that Iran halted work on its nuclear weapons program in 2003 but
continued to develop uranium enrichment programs.
Disclosure of the change in the report´s language comes as the
director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in
Vienna on Monday that he has new information on the military aspect
of Iran´s nuclear program.
IAEA Director Yukiya Amano told reporters that doubts about the
civilian nature of the Iran program were based on information showing
Iran engaged in nuclear weapons activity before and after 2004.
"We are not saying that Iran has a nuclear weapons program. We have
concerns and we want to clarify the matter," he said at a news
An internal IAEA report from Feb. 25 stated that recent information
disclosed "nuclear-related activities involving military-related
organizations, including activities related to the development of a
nuclear payload for a missile."
It stated that "there are indications that certain of these
activities may have continued beyond 2004."
The latest CIA report said Iran last year decreased the number of
uranium enrichment centrifuges but surged ahead in production, now
holding an estimated 3,200 kilograms of low-enriched uranium, nearly
double last year´s estimate.
"During the reporting period, Iran continued to expand its nuclear
infrastructure and continued uranium enrichment and activities
related to its heavy water research reactor, despite multiple United
Nations Security Council Resolutions since late 2006 and most
recently in June 2010 calling for suspension of those activities,"
the report said.
The Iranians faced some obstacles that slowed their progress in
expanding nuclear work last year that were not identified. The
underground nuclear plant at Natanz also continued to add older and
newer model centrifuges for enriching uranium.
"You can´t explain the Iranian nuclear program as a civilian
program," said Gary Milhollin, director of the Wisconsin Project on
Nuclear Arms Control. "Any way you look at the program, it looks like
a military program, and our intelligence agencies should be willing
to say so." (©2011 The Washington Times, LLC. 03/08/11)
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