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Saturday, April 16, 2005

Iran's bomb: Years Away

Apparently, the latest US intelligence about the status of Iran's nuclear program was made known in March, by the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Anne Gearan's recent AP story (this was taken from The Guardian) has the information, which makes the threat far from imminent:
At the State Department, spokesman Richard Boucher noted that U.S. intelligence agencies, in assessing Iran's nuclear program, have used "an estimate that said that Iran was not likely to acquire a nuclear weapon before the beginning of the next decade. That remains the case."
Of course, this can be spun to sound more threatening. Consider this from the same story:
"Unless constrained by a nuclear nonproliferation agreement, Tehran probably will have the ability to produce nuclear weapons early in the next decade," Vice Adm. Lowell Jacoby told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Israel is peddling an even more pessimistic scenario. CNN April 13:
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon warned Wednesday that Iran is nearing a "point of no return" in developing a nuclear weapon that could be used against his country.

In a CNN interview, Sharon said Iran was years away from possessing a nuclear weapon -- but could be just months away from overcoming "technical problems" in building one.

"The point of no return depends upon the ability of the Iranians to solve some technical issues, and once they solve it, I think that will be the point of no return," he said.
At least for now, Sharon says Israel doesn't intend to strike Iran's nuclear facilities:
As for a unilateral strike, he said, "We don't think that is what we have to do."
Some of the headlines around the world were even more definitive. This one was from the Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald, April 14: "Israel will not attack Iran, Sharon says."

Knock on wood.

This post follows up several others: February 9, February 16, and last October 22.

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