Washington, Aug. 9 – A U.S. intelligence report says Iran has made significant progress toward developing nuclear weapons in recent months, making the task of stopping the illegal program much more urgent.
The contents of the latest National Intelligence Estimate report on the Iranian nuclear program, which was recently delivered to President Obama, were first reported by the Haaretz newspaper and indirectly confirmed by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
Speaking on Israel Radio on Thursday, Barak said that there is a U.S. intelligence report “being passed around senior offices,” which has brought the U.S. assessment of Iran’s illegal nuclear program closer to the Israeli view.
“As far as we know it (the intelligence assessment) brings the American assessment much closer to ours ... it makes the Iranian issue even more urgent and (shows it is) less clear and certain that we will know everything in time about their steady progress toward military nuclear capability,” Barak said.
The United Nations Security Council has passed four binding resolutions demanding that Iran cease its uranium enrichment program but Tehran has pushed steadily ahead despite tough international sanctions that have hurt its economy.
The intelligence report, or NIE, details “alarming” intelligence about Iran’s nuclear program, including marked progress on key elements of its weaponization drive, according to Haaretz.
In its previous NIE report in 2007, the U.S. intelligence community concluded that Iran had frozen its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and had not returned to it.
Israel’s U.S. Ambassador Michael Oren warned in a Wall Street Journal editorial on Wednesday that time was running out to stop the program through sanctions and diplomacy.
Barak said Israel had not yet decided what to do to halt Iran's nuclear program. “All the options are still on the table, and when we say this, we mean it,” he said.
“There is still no decision, we understand the gravity of the situation, we understand that we do not have all the time in the world to decide. We are facing tough decisions…we will listen to all assessments and comments, and when we have to make decisions, we will make them, and the decision will of course come from the government,” he said.
Haaretz reported that the new intelligence report was supposed to have been submitted to Obama a few weeks ago, but it was revised to include new and alarming intelligence information about military components of Iran's nuclear program. This NIE report was compiled by an inter-departmental team headed by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
Earlier in the week, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned that if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, it may actually use it.