US intelligence finds Iran not currently developing nuclear weapons

Unclassified document claims Tehran has stopped 'activities that would be necessary to produce' an atom bomb

A US assessment from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence says Iran has moved to increase its capacity to produce an atom bomb since 2020 but has stopped short of that so far. AP
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A US intelligence assessment released on Monday says Iran is not currently pursuing nuclear weapons but has ramped up activities that could help it develop them.

The assessment from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence states that Iran has moved to increase its capacity to produce an atom bomb since 2020 but has stopped short of that so far.

The findings corresponded with previous US assessments about Iran’s nuclear programme, although many in Congress and elsewhere have been sceptical of those.

President Joe Biden's administration has been defending its desire to return to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, since it first took office.

That effort has been complicated in recent months by the suspension of its chief negotiator, Rob Malley, who was placed on unpaid leave last month pending an investigation into claims he mishandled classified information.

“Iran is not currently undertaking the key nuclear weapons-development activities that would be necessary to produce a testable nuclear device,” the two-page unclassified synopsis of the report reads.

However, Iran is also pursuing “research and development activities that would bring it closer to producing the fissile material needed for completing a nuclear device following a decision to do so”, the report said.

In that regard, Iran continues to violate the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal regarding uranium enrichment that it agreed to with world powers, the report said. Donald Trump's administration withdrew from that agreement in 2018.

“Iran continues to increase the size and enrichment level of its uranium stockpile beyond JCPOA limits,” the report said. It added that it also continues to exceed JCPOA restrictions on advanced centrifuge research and development.

These findings have been generally supported by inspections from the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

In addition to the nuclear findings, the US intelligence report said that Iran's ballistic missile programme continues to pose a significant threat to countries across the Middle East.

“Iran has emphasised improving the accuracy, lethality, and reliability of its missiles,” it said.

Updated: July 10, 2023, 10:26 PM