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 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. We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.” – Congressional testimony (February 16, 2012)
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)