US: Iran nuclear weapons initiative ended in 2003

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Monday, December 3, 2007

A senior United States intelligence official said today that Iran stopped its nuclear weapons program in the fall of 2003 under international pressure. The official cautioned that Iran is still continuing to enrich uranium and could have a nuclear weapon available between 2009 and 2015, but the report states that intelligence shows that Iran has not restarted their nuclear weapons program.

Teheran's decision to halt its nuclear weapons program suggests it is less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005.

The finding, published in a new National Intelligence Estimate on Iran, is a major deviation from the intelligence the U.S. suggested two years ago. The United States believed that Tehran was determined to develop a nuclear capability and was continuing its weapons development program.

"This is good news is that the US policy coupled with the policies and actions of those who have been our partners appear to have had some success. Iran seems to have been pressured. Given that good news, we don't want to relax. We want to keep those pressures up," said an unnamed official.

Iran claims that it is enriching uranium for peaceful purposes. The United States has insisted it will not back down until Iran rids of all possibilities to get a weapon of mass destruction, but is determined to solve the differences with diplomacy.

"We should be having a surge of diplomacy with Iran. And based upon this [estimate], I think it would be a pretty good idea," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Iran would not be capable of technically producing and reprocessing enough plutonium for a weapon before about 2015, the report states. But ultimately it has the technical and industrial capacity to build a bomb, "if it decides to do so," the intelligence agencies found.

The same agency in 2005 stated that Iran was "determined" to build a nuclear bomb.

US president George Bush urged Iran to "come clean with the international community about the scope of their nuclear activities."