'Iran's nuke program very concerning'

US intel chief: Teheran 2-3 years from long-range missile; new policy set to prevent second 9/11.

iran missile test flag cool 248 88 (photo credit: AP)
iran missile test flag cool 248 88
(photo credit: AP)
While noting that the US intelligence agencies lack enough evidence to prove Iran has decided to build a nuclear warhead, US National Intelligence Director Michael McConnell admitted on Friday that he shares the alarm of outgoing CIA Director Michael Hayden that the possibility may come soon. McConnell said Teheran is two to three years away from having a long-range missile that could reach Europe and continues to produce low-enriched uranium, the raw ingredient for the fissionable material needed for a warhead. "I'm very concerned Iran will continue down a path that will result in a nuclear weapon," he said. He is especially worried about the effect it would have in the Middle East, either kicking off a regional arms race or a war. Also at the press conference on Friday, McConnell announced that a new policy that will require sharing of all finished intelligence and much of the raw information that feeds it across the agencies will be signed in the next few days. "It's the policy to hope that we would never repeat 9/11," McConnell said. "I believe we failed the nation at 9/11. There was sufficient information in the system that had it been properly recognized, shared and considered, we probably would have reacted in a different way," He said. He was talking about poor judgment demonstrated by intelligence and other government agencies before the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the United States. Under the coming system, he said, analysts in one agency will be able to do quick searches of classified intelligence and turn up almost every bit of data or analysis any other intelligence office has compiled on it. The small percentage of information that could reveal the identity of spies or secret methods of collection may be blocked from view, but the director's office can intercede to reveal that as well if a compelling case is made for it, McConnell said. The difference in the amount of information available to analysts will be staggering, he said, and they will have access to raw information that they can weigh for themselves.