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* Iran to boost nuclear capacity despite pressure  News Report

* US estimate: Iran froze nuclear weapons program in 2003  News Report

* Iran 'has halted nuclear weapons programme'  News Report

* US report plays down Iran threat  News Report

* 'Iran halted nuclear weapons programme in 2003'  News Report

* U.S. report says Iran halted nuclear weapons program in 2003  News Report

* Iran silent on nuclear ambitions  News Report

* U.S. report contradicts Bush on Iran nuclear program  News Report

* Iranian pushes nuclear talks back to beginning  News Report

* Russia raps Saudi atomic fuel proposal for Iran: RIA  News Report

* Iran's power struggle intensifies  Simon Tisdall

* Deputy Head of IAEA Due in Tehran on Monday  News Report

* U.N.'s Ban "very worried" on Iran's nuclear progress  News Report

* Iran, EU see further nuclear talks by end-Nov  News Report

* Iran's hawks winning nuclear policy argument  Edmund Blair

* Iran's hard-line nuclear reshuffle  News Report

* Nuclear issue still unresolved  News Report

* Iran leader invited to Moscow for talks  News Report

* Public clash over Iran N-issue  News Report

* U.S. accuses Iran of defiance, threatens further sanctions  News Report

* Irans Latest Nuclear Work Seen as Only Test - Scale  News Report

* UN agency confirms Iran is producing nuclear fuel  News Report

* Nuclear interest rising in Mideast  News Report

* Iran to work out a reply for EU package by August 22  News Report


US report plays down Iran threat
[ News Report]  [2007-12-03 17:12:18]
[Source: BBC - 03/12/07]


Iran appears "less determined" to develop nuclear weapons than previously thought, US intelligence officials say.

Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 but is continuing to enrich uranium, a National Intelligence Estimate assessment has concluded.

Enriched uranium is used in nuclear bombs but Tehran says the aims of its nuclear activities are peaceful.

A senior advisor to President Bush said the report was "positive" but the risk of a nuclear Iran remained "serious".

Iran is currently under sanctions from both the UN Security Council, which is demanding the end of uranium enrichment, and unilateral US sanctions.

'Technical problems'

The declassified summary of the report, which draws together information from the US's 16 intelligence agencies, says with "high confidence" that Iran stopped its nuclear weapons programme in 2003 "in response to international pressure".

The assessment says with "moderate confidence" that the programme has not restarted.

This is a turnaround from previous assessments, when US intelligence agencies believed Iran was trying to develop a nuclear weapon.

Iran made "significant progress" in 2007 installing gas centrifuges used to enrich uranium - a process necessary for producing the fissile nuclear material needed to build a nuclear bomb, the report says.

But the report's authors judge with "moderate confidence" that Iran "still faces significant technical problems" operating the new equipment.

And they conclude that the country is not likely to have enough highly enriched uranium to build a bomb until 2010-2015.

'Right strategy'

US National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley said the report's findings confirmed the US was "right to be worried" about Iran's nuclear ambitions and that President George W Bush had "the right strategy".

The international community should "turn up the pressure on Iran" using diplomatic isolation, UN sanctions and other financial leverage, he said.

The BBC News website's world affairs correspondent, Paul Reynolds, says the report is cautious in its assessment of Iran's nuclear activities and provides little evidence for those who would like an early military attack.

He says it will strengthen the hand of those who want further sanctions since it states that past pressure has worked.

BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera says the estimate is in stark contrast to the alarmist and hawkish language coming from some parts of the administration.

Last month Mr Bush warned that stopping Iran developing nuclear technology was vital to prevent World War III.





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