2012 assessment from U.S. intelligence community still finds no evidence Iran has started nuclear weapons program
The United States’ intelligence community’s judgments on Iran’s nuclear program have not fundamentally changed from those revealed in its controversial 2007 National Intelligence Estimate. In presenting the intelligence community’s annual “Worldwide Threat Assessment” to the Senate Committee on Intelligence on January 31, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper used language identical to that used in recent years on a number of critical points:
- We continue to assess Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons in part by developing various nuclear capabilities that better position it to produce such weapons, should it choose to do so. We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.
- Iran has the scientific, technical, and industrial capacity to eventually produce nuclear weapons, making the central issue its political will to do so. These [technical] advancements contribute to our judgment that Iran is technically capable of producing enough highly enriched uranium for a weapon, if it so chooses.
- We judge Iran’s nuclear decision making is guided by a cost-benefit approach, which offers the international community opportunities to influence Tehran.
The consensus opinion of the U.S. intelligence community is that Iran not diverted any resources to a military weapons program and there is no evidence that they have made the political decision to do so. However, it is clear from an examination of their past military programs and past statements that they want to preserve the technical capacity for nuclear breakout but forgoing the actuality in order to avoid international ostracism. This option holds the potential to advance Iran's security objectives without incurring the worse consequences an overt program might bring.