The new chief of US intelligence has confirmed the findings of a 2007 intelligence report that Iran has no nuclear weapons program.
Dennis Blair told the Senate Intelligence Committee that his organization has assessed that Tehran does not have nuclear weapons design and weaponization work.
A National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), issued in November 2007 by the sixteen US intelligence agencies, clarified that Iran was not pursuing a nuclear weapons program.
The 2007 intelligence report was widely seen as a setback for Bush administration efforts to pressure Iran and halt its nuclear program.
The UN nuclear watchdog, which has carried out the highest number of inspections in its history on Iranian nuclear sites, has also found nothing to indicate that the program has diverted toward weaponization.
Blair also acknowledged that Tehran has made significant progress in its uranium enrichment program during the past two years.
“Although we do not know whether Iran currently intends to develop nuclear weapons, we assess Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop them,” said the retired admiral.
He, however, did not elaborate on how his organization can assess that Tehran intends at a minimum level to keep open the option to develop nuclear weapons.
The US official added that the intelligence agency believes Iran is unlikely to be able to produce enough enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon before 2013.
“US intelligence assesses that Iran does not currently have a nuclear weapon, and does not yet have enough fissile material for one,” he affirmed.
Blair confirmed that the international community remains divided in dealing with the country’s nuclear drive. Both Russia and China are against the imposition of additional sanctions on Iran over its nuclear activities.
The UN Security Council, influenced by the Bush administration, has intervened in Iran’s nuclear dossier, slapping three rounds of sanctions against Tehran.
Iran, a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), says the only aim of its program is the civilian applications of the technology.