I recently found myself thinking about the following two _ACT_ excerpts while speaking to some colleagues about Iran.
The first is called “How Long Until an Iranian Bomb?” It’s from an October article and can be found “here.”:http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2006_10/IAEAIranIntel.asp
In the interview, Negroponte reiterated U.S. estimates that Tehran will have the “capability” to produce a nuclear weapon “five to 10 years from now,” unless circumstances change. A Department of National Intelligence spokesperson said that the intelligence community is evaluating this assessment as part of its work on a new National Intelligence Estimate, Newsweek reported Sept. 25.
By contrast, Israeli government estimates suggest that Iran could master the enrichment process within six to 12 months and produce enough highly enriched uranium (HEU) for a nuclear weapon in as little as three years, according to a knowledgeable Western official.
Asked about differences between the two government’s estimates, Negroponte said that both countries “basically operate from the same knowledge base” but that Israel will “sometimes…give you the worst-case assessment.”
Some U.S. officials have also argued for less-optimistic timelines. For example, Bolton said that the international community should not “assume that the intelligence estimates that put [ Tehran’s ability to acquire nuclear weapons] off for many years are necessarily going to be right.”
Additionally, Joseph told the House International Relations Committee in March that several “wildcards,” including potential assistance from foreign entities, could “accelerate” the intelligence community’s notional timeline.
The “second excerpt,”:http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2006_06/IranDirectTalks.asp is from the June issue and called “Getting to Yes?”
The first part discusses Iran’s positions RE: a possible solution to the controversy over its enrichment program. But the part below describes a couple of expert opinions RE: Tehran’s nuclear intentions:
Iranian officials, however, have said that Iran would accept limits on the number of centrifuges in its pilot facility. For example, the Iranian diplomat indicated that Tehran would have been willing in March to limit the number of centrifuges to between 164 and 500. A former European diplomat who maintains contact with Iranian officials said in a May 22 interview that, according to an Iranian official “directly involved” in the matter, Khamenei agreed in the spring of 2005 that Iran would accept a limit of 164 centrifuges.
Iran is currently operating a 164-centrifuge cascade in its pilot facility and is building two others.
But Gary Samore, a former Clinton administration National Security Council aide who maintains contact with Tehran, told Arms Control Today May 17 that Iran is determined to have an industrial-scale enrichment capability and does not want a constraint on its enrichment facilities. According to Samore, Iranian officials say privately that they want to have a “breakout capability” for developing nuclear weapons. Interestingly, the Iranian diplomat who spoke with Arms Control Today also suggested that there are some officials in Tehran who may want Iran to have a nuclear weapons option.
A former senior intelligence official offered another view. Former National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia Paul Pillar told Arms Control Today May 22 that, in his judgment, Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program but is not on an “irreversible course.” Pillar cautioned that such assessments are only judgments, noting that U.S. intelligence about Iran’s nuclear programs is limited.
Because this blog is obvoiusly all about me.
Have a good weekend.