Fact: U.S. and Israeli intelligence assess that Iran is not developing a nuclear weapon.
The United States intelligence community says Iran has not made the decision to develop a nuclear weapon.
- National Intelligence Estimate: “We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program.” (2007 National Intelligence Estimate Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities; November 2007)
- Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta: “Are they [Iran] trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No. But we know that they’re trying to develop a nuclear capability.” (Face the Nation; January 8, 2012)
Instead, the U.S. intelligence community is concerned that Iran is engaged in a strategy of “nuclear hedging” — developing the capabilities that would be necessary to build a nuclear weapon IF such a political decision were made.
- Director of National Intelligence James Clapper: “We assess Iran is developing nuclear capabilities to enhance its security, prestige, and regional influence and give it the ability to develop nuclear weapons, should a decision be made to do so. We do not know if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.” – Congressional testimony (March 12, 2013)
According to multiple credible media reports, Israeli intelligence agencies agree with the U.S. intelligence community that Iran has not decided to develop nuclear weapons.
- “Iran has not yet decided whether to make a nuclear bomb, according to the intelligence assessment Israeli officials will present later this week to Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. … The Israeli view is that while Iran continues to improve its nuclear capabilities, it has not yet decided whether to translate these capabilities into a nuclear weapon – or, more specifically, a nuclear warhead mounted atop a missile. Nor is it clear when Iran might make such a decision.” (Haaretz, “Israel: Iran still mulling whether to build nuclear bomb”; January 18, 2012)
- “Several senior Israeli officials who spoke in recent days to The Associated Press said Israel has come around to the U.S. view that no final decision to build a bomb has been made by Iran.” (Associated Press, “Israel shifts views on Iran”; March 18, 2012)