The new “National Intelligence Estimate” (NIE) is the first NIE on Iran since 2007 when the intelligence community famously concluded that Iran had halted work to design and build a nuclear warhead.
Many people erroneously concluded that US analysts had said Iran had scrapped its nuclear weapons program. Actually, it only said it had halted the most provocative work on a nuclear warhead design while continuing other work, most notably on enriching uranium, which was much less advanced than the work on warhead design.
The Journal quoted an unnamed US official as saying, “There’s an intense debate inside the Iranian regime on the question of whether or not to move toward a nuclear bomb.”
The newspaper said there is a growing consensus among analysts that Iran’s nuclear program has been slowed significantly by a combination of sanctions and problems at its nuclear plants.
It said officials not only in the United States but in Asia and Europe as well believe Iran’s clandestine schemes to procure technical materials for its nuclear program have been sharply curtailed by Western efforts to tighten sanctions. They cite, in particular, difficulties for Iran in obtaining carbon fiber and maraging steel, two critical components of centrifuges.
PressTV, the Islamic Republic’s English language news outlet, gave a unique perspective on this news report about the NIE. Its lead paragraph said: “The latest US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) has reiterated its 2007 position that the Islamic Republic of Iran is not after nuclear arms.”