U.S. Intel: As Iran neared U.S. deal, it enhanced nuclear capability
WASHINGTON — The U.S. intelligence community has determined that Iran, despite an agreement with the West, has moved closer to nuclear weapons capability.
The intelligence community has assessed that Iran achieved progress in the areas of uranium enrichment, nuclear reactors and ballistic missiles in 2013. The community said the progress would enable Iran to produce nuclear weapons if ordered by the Teheran regime.
"These technical advancements strengthen out assessment that Iran has the scientific, technical and industrial capacity to eventually produce nuclear weapons," the assessment said. "This makes the central issue the political will to do so."
In the assessment submitted to Congress on Jan. 29, National Intelligence director James Clapper said Iran installed additional centrifuges at the Fuel Enrichment Plant as well as developed advanced centrifuges. He also cited the growth of Iranian low-enriched uranium hexafluoride.
Clapper stressed that the Iranian nuclear agreement with P5+1, scheduled to begin implementation on Jan. 20, concerned the facilities Teheran declared to the International Atomic Energy Agency. He said the agreement could increase IAEA monitoring of Iran's declared and planned nuclear sites. Nine days earlier, a Defense Department advisory panel asserted that the intelligence community failed to adequately monitor Iran and other rogue nuclear programs.
The report said Iran was receiving strategic assistance from North Korea, another nuclear state. The assistance has helped Teheran accumulate the largest ballistic missile stockpile in the Middle East.
"We assess that if Iran fully implements the joint plan, it will temporarily halt the expansion of its enrichment program, eliminate its production and stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium in a form of suitable for further enrichment and provide additional transparency into its existing and planned nuclear facilities," Clapper said. "This transparency would provide earlier warning of a breakout using these facilities."