Bill Gertz. . .
CIA: Iran capable of producing nukes
Iran is poised to begin producing nuclear weapons after its uranium program expansion in 2009, even though it has had problems with thousands of its centrifuges, according to a newly released CIA report.
"Iran continues to develop a range of capabilities that could be applied to producing nuclear weapons, if a decision is made to do so," the annual report to Congress states.
A U.S. official involved in countering weapons proliferation said the Iranians are "keeping the door open to the possibility of building a nuclear weapon."
"That's in spite of strong international pressure not to do so, and some difficulties they themselves seem to be having with their nuclear program," the official said. "There are powerful incentives for them to close the door completely, but they are either purposefully ignoring them or are tone deaf. You almost want to shout, 'Tune in Tehran.'"
The CIA report is the latest official study expressing concern over Iran's continuing nuclear activities. The International Atomic Energy Agency on March 3 issued a report warning that continuing nuclear activities in violation of U.N. resolutions raise "concerns about the possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile."
The U.S. report was produced by the CIA Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation and Arms Control Center, known as WINPAC. It is called the 721 report for the section of a 1997 intelligence authorization law requiring it.
The report also says that North Korea, based on a nuclear test in May 2009, now "has the capability to produce nuclear weapons with a yield of roughly a couple of kilotons TNT equivalent." A kiloton is a measure of a nuclear bomb's power and is equal to 1,000 tons of TNT.
On Iran, the report says that it is "keeping open" its options for building nuclear arms, "though we do not know whether Tehran eventually will decide to produce nuclear weapons."
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