The US believes the official intelligence assessment of Iran’s nuclear programme is wrong and Tehran is working on the design of a nuclear weapon, it was reported today.
Washington is seeking support for new sanctions against Iran at the UN security council following the expiry of a new year deadline, imposed by the US president, Barack Obama, for Tehran to respond to an offer of economic help and improved diplomatic relations in return for curbing its nuclear programme.
Washington is distancing itself from a controversial National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), produced by several US spy agencies in 2007, which suggested Iran had suspended work on weapons design four years earlier.
“After reviewing new documents that have leaked out of Iran and debriefing defectors lured to the west, Mr Obama’s advisers say they believe the work on weapons design is continuing on a smaller scale – the same assessment reached by Britain, France, Germany and Israel,” the New York Times reported.
The key sources of new intelligence are likely to include two recent Iranian defectors – Ali Reza Asgari, a Revolutionary Guards general who vanished in Istanbul in 2007, and Shahram Amiri, a leading Iranian nuclear scientist, who disappeared while on a pilgrimage to Mecca last summer.
The Iranian government has blamed the US for their disappearance.
However, the Obama administration believes there is still time to try sanctions as a means of stemming… >>>