'US does not believe Iran trying to build nuclear bomb'

'LA Times' reports highly classified US intelligence assessment indicates that Iran is conducting research that could eventually enable it to develop a nuclear weapon, but that it has not sought to do so.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
February 24, 2012 11:26
1 minute read.
Ahmadinejad looks on next to nuclear scientists

Ahmadinejad nuclear unveiling 390. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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US intelligence agencies do not believe that Iran is actively trying to build a nuclear weapon, The Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday, citing a highly classified intelligence assessment from early 2011.

According to the report, the intelligence estimate holds that Tehran halted efforts to develop and build a nuclear warhead in 2003.

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The Los Angeles Times claims that the report, representing the input of 16 US intelligence agencies, indicates that Iran is conducting research that could eventually enable it to develop a nuclear weapon, but that it has not sought to do so.

The report came as Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu were scheduled to travel to Washington next week for discussions with US Defense Minister Leon Panetta and US President Barack Obama in which a possible attack on Iran's nuclear facilities is expected to figure prominently.

Senior officials in the US, Britain and Russia all publicly entreated Israel this week not to attack Iran.

Diplomats in Vienna said Thursday that Iran is believed to be carrying out preparations to expand nuclear activity at an underground facility in Fordow, giving Iran better protection against a potential Israeli or US strike.

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A senior team of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) failed again this week to get the Islamic state to start addressing their mounting concerns about its nuclear work and returned empty handed to Vienna after two days of talks in Iran.

The setback increased worries about a downward spiral towards conflict between the Islamic Republic and the West, and sent oil prices to a nine-month high.

The UN agency is now putting the finishing touches to its next report on Iran, expected to include information on the Tehran talks as well as more detail on the status of the Fordow plant near the Shi'ite Muslim holy city of Qom.

"I think we will see a jump in the potential state of readiness of the facility," one Vienna-based envoy said.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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