U.S. Officials See No Move by Iran to Build a Nuclear Bomb

Despite the fact that the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog said Friday that Iran had accelerated its uranium enrichment program, American intelligence analysts insist that there is no evidence that Iran has decided to build a nuclear bomb.

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad inspects nuclear facility on Jan. 12, 2012. Photo: Alex Finn/Flickr

According to American agencies, recent assessments by American spy agencies are broadly consistent with their conclusion in 2007 that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program years earlier.

The officials said that assessment was reaffirmed in a 2010 National Intelligence Estimate, and that it remains the consensus view of America’s 16 intelligence agencies, reveals The New York Times.

It is a claim which absolutely differs from the announcement UN made on Friday. In its report UN said that it will further inflame Israeli fears the Islamic Republic is pushing ahead with atomic bomb plans.

“The Agency continues to have serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program,” the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a report about Iran issued to member states.

Wadah Khanfar, the former director general of Al Jazeera, told reporters that a strike on Iran would be a “disaster” for the Middle East’s burgeoning democracies.

“What will happen is a disaster,” Khanfar said. “An attack against Iran at this moment in time is first of all going to create new priorities, new alliances, new fears in the region and new complexities. No one can expect what the result will be.”

Khanfar added he worried the fragile Arab Spring could become an unintended casualty of a war because the new, unstable political alignments could find themselves drifting back to old patterns should foreign intervention came into play, especially if Israel became involved, writes The Huffington Post.

“It will change a lot of what we see as a success story in the Arab world and in the Middle East,” Khanfar said. “For the last few years the Arab world is transforming itself from within … No one accepts foreign intervention as a tool of change. Then priorities change immediately.”

Khanfar also shared that he fears the crisis in Syria could soon develop into all-out war. The longer the world waits to help, Khanfar said, the greater the chances that the Syrians would accept the assistance of militant groups like Al Qaeda.

“The images that we see in Syria, we do not see anywhere else in the Arab world,” Khanfar said.

“Something has to be done, and I do believe that the delay in doing that might complicate the situation more and create some desperate attempts from the public and from other groups who might be coming and helping, and that is not in the interests of anyone.”

However, James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, highlighted that American officials think that Iran may be preserving its options for a nuclear weapon, but there was no evidence that it had made a decision to build a weapon.

Other senior United States officials, such as Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have agreed with the statesments in recent television appearances.

“They are certainly moving on that path, but we don’t believe they have actually made the decision to go ahead with a nuclear weapon,” Mr. Clapper told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

David A. Kay, former head of the C.I.A.’s team that searched for Iraq’s weapons programs after the United States invasion, was cautious about the quality of the intelligence underlying the current American assessment.

“They don’t have evidence that Iran has made a decision to build a bomb, and that reflects a real gap in the intelligence,” Mr. Kay said.

“It’s true the evidence hasn’t changed very much” since 2007, he added. “But that reflects a lack of access and a lack of intelligence as much as anything.”

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