CIA Director David Petraeus in the US Senate 390.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)
Sanctions against Iran are beginning to have more of an impact, CIA Director David Petraeus said on Tuesday.
sanctions have been biting much, much more literally in recent weeks
than they have until this time," he said at a Senate intelligence
"What we have to see now is how does that play
out, what is the level of popular discontent inside Iran, does that
influence the strategic decision making of the Supreme Leader and the
regime, keeping in mind that the regime's paramount goal in all that
they do is their regime survival," Petraeus said.
The CIA chief
also said that Saudi Arabia appears to be "ramping up" its oil
production and can fill some of the demand shortfalls caused by the
sanctions on Iran.
China has reduced its imports of Iranian oil
and "it remains to be seen whether that continues. It appears that Saudi
Arabian production is ramping up and can fill some of the demand that
might have been met by Iranian exports now that there are the sanctions
on the Central Bank of Iran," Petraeus said.
Earlier in the
hearing, US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Iran is
keeping the option open to develop a nuclear weapon but US intelligence
agencies do not know whether it will eventually decide to build one.
US sanctions imposed over Iran's nuclear program were likely to have a
greater impact than previous ones, but were not expected to lead to the
downfall of Tehran's leadership, Clapper told the Senate committee.
assess Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons, in
part by developing various nuclear capabilities that better position it
to produce such weapons, should it choose to do so," Clapper said. "We
do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear
Iran is expanding its uranium enrichment capabilities, which can be used for either civil or weapons purposes, he said.
technical advancement, particularly in uranium enrichment, strengthens
our assessment that Iran has the scientific, technical, and industrial
capacity to eventually produce nuclear weapons, making the central issue
its political will to do so," Clapper said.
contribute to our judgment that Iran is technically capable of producing
enough highly enriched uranium for a weapon, if it so chooses," he