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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

British Intelligence: Iran has been working on nuclear warheads since 2004 or 2005

London's Financial Times reports from British intelligence sources that Iran has been working on a design for a nuclear warhead since 2004 or 2005.
Britain’s intelligence services say that Iran has been secretly designing a nuclear warhead “since late 2004 or early 2005”, an assessment that suggests Tehran has embarked on the final steps towards acquiring nuclear weapons capability.

As world powers prepare to confront Iran on Thursday on its nuclear ambitions, the Financial Times has learnt that the UK now judges that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, ordered the resumption of the country’s weapons programme four years ago.


By contrast, US intelligence services remain firm in their conclusion that while Iran may ultimately want a bomb, the country halted weapons design work in 2003 and probably has not restarted that effort as of 2007.

The US published this judgment in a National Intelligence Estimate in 2007 amid claims that the CIA was scarred by its errors over Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programme.

Britain has always privately expressed scepticism about the US assessment on Iran but is only now firmly asserting that the weapons programme restarted in 2004-05.
I suppose that one advantage to Obama's weakness is that the Brits are willing to challenge US conclusions openly, which they have not done until now.

The British report fits better with a report in Friday's Washington Post that said that Iran has two more facilities outside Tehran that are working on nuclear detonators. I discussed that report here. That report was apparently based on information received from Iranian exiles who are affiliated with the MEK. The US regards the MEK as a terror group and would be more likely to discount information received from it than would British intelligence, which has taken the MEK off the terror list.

I believe there is a lot to the claim that the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate on Iran was influenced by two factors that should not have come into consideration: the claimed intelligence failure on Iraq and the (political) desire to take a military option in Iran out of President Bush's hands. At the time, Israel vigorously rejected the National Intelligence Estimate based on intelligence assessments that it had of the situation in Iran. Germany's BND has since refuted it, as has Michael McConnell, who was the Director of National Intelligence under whom it was issued.

I'd go with the Brits. I believe Iran is working on nuclear warheads and that they're awfully close to successfully designing them.


At 6:59 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

The British report shows just how much elements inside the US intelligence community hostile to Israel manipulated the 2007 findings to preclude effective military action against Iran. Today the hour is late and the clock is ticking towards midnight.

What could go wrong indeed


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