Iran does not have a nuclear bomb, has not decided to build one and is probably years away from having a deliverable nuclear warhead. Those are three things the United States, its European allies, and Israel all agree on, according to a March 23 Reuters report. The report, based on interviews with U.S. and European officials with access to intelligence on nuclear-related activities in Iran, is in marked contrast to much of the talk about Iran's nuclear program, both in the United States, where talk of military action against Iran is often threatened or implied, and in Israel, where a potential preventive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities has been a hot topic of debate. Conflicting views on the subject still abound, but the consensus appears to be the threat of a nuclear armed Iran is not imminent.
"They're keeping the soup warm but they are not cooking it," an unnamed U.S. official told Reuters. The report is the latest in a series of defense analyses in recent months that support the findings of a then-controversial National Intelligence Estimate in 2007, based on the investigations of 16 American intelligence agencies, that stated with "high confidence" Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program in the fall of 2003. Iranian officials have maintained that their nuclear program is for medical applications and energy production. A March 4 article in the New York Times quoted a European official involved in diplomatic efforts with Iran as saying, "while the intentions of the Iranian regime remain opaque, we don't believe they have made the decision to weaponize." Yet, the official observed, "the war drumbeat is beating louder in Washington."
Israel and the United States have expressed worry that Tehran could divert its nuclear production into a renewed weapons program, something President Obama has said would threaten the stability of a volatile region in which Israel and Pakistan are already nuclear-armed states.
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Photo: IR-40 nuclear enrichment facility in Arak, Iran