US intelligence agencies may rewrite a 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that claimed Iran gave up its nuclear-weapons program in 2003, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday, quoting current and former US intelligence officials.
A senior US intelligence official said that although officials were not "ready to declare the findings invalid," the fact that the previous assessment only covered the 2003-2007 time frame left room for a reassessment of the period since the December 2007 report was completed.
The spy agencies "have a lot more information since we last did" a national intelligence estimate, the official said. Some of it "tracks precisely with what we've seen before," while other information "causes us to reassess what we've seen before," the official added.
In anticipation that the new assessment would conclude that Teheran had indeed resumed its atomic-weapons program, a European official working on Iran was quoted as saying, "Countries would no longer be able to hide behind the NIE."
Another senior intelligence official said that "at some point in the near future, our analytic community is going to want to press the reset button on our judgments on intent and weaponization in light of Qom and other information we're receiving."
Israeli, as well as British, French and German intelligence agencies have all disputed the 2007 NIE's findings, claims which appeared to have been substantiated by Iran's recent acknowledgment that it had been secretly constructing a new uranium enrichment plant inside a mountain just north of the Shi'ite holy city of Qom.
Last week, even the International Atomic Energy Agency appeared to join those disputing the NIE assessment, when The New York Times reported that a confidential report compiled by senior officials in the UN nuclear watchdog claimed Iran already had enough knowledge to build a nuclear bomb.
According to the report, senior IAEA staff members concluded in an analysis that Teheran had acquired "sufficient information to be able to design and produce a workable implosion nuclear device," based on highly-enriched uranium.
The paper went on to say that the report's conclusions, as described by top European officials, "go well beyond the public positions taken by several governments, including the United States."
Also last week, US National Security adviser Gen. Jim Jones denied a NY Times report that the US would be reassessing the 2007 NIE.
"We stand by the reports that we put out. You're going to get a lot of speculation," Jones told CNN.
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