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What the US Intelligence is Saying about Iran?

A newly disclosed document- answers to questions for the record submitted by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to the Senate Intelligence Committee in April 2009 – has revealed that Iran is at least four years away from producing nuclear weapon and Iran has been secretly helping the Afghan insurgents including the Taliban.  The Washington Post reported that the Federation of American Scientists obtained the document through a Freedom of Information Act request and published it on their Web site. Following is a detailed look at the revelations regarding Iran found in the document:

Iranian Nuclear Program:

Iran is still several years away from producing weapon-grade nuclear material.  While Iran made significant progress in 2007 and 2008 by installing and operating centrifuges at its main enrichment plant at Natanz, it is “unlikely that Iran will have the technical capability to produce HEU [highly enriched uranium] before 2013.”  The State Department’s intelligence bureau (INR) also believes that “Iran probably would use military-run covert facilities, rather than declared nuclear sites, to produce HEU. Outfitting a covert enrichment infrastructure could take years.”


The report stated that Russia is an unreliable partner on the Iranian nuclear program due to “Moscow’s differing interests, priorities, and threat perceptions.”  DNI pointed out that while Russia has voted for three UN security council resolutions since 2006, it has also supported Iran’s civilian nuclear program and sells it advanced weapons.

Hizballah and Hamas:

There were no major revelations in regards to Iran’s relationship to Hizballah and Hamas.  The report pointed out that Iran’s support for Hizballah and Hamas is a threat to regional security. Iran support to Hamas since the 2006 “has bolstered group’s ability to strike Israel and oppose the Palestinian authority.”  While Hizballah has been the largest recipient of Iranian financial aid, training and weapons, which has helped to increase “the group’s capabilities to pressure other Labanese factions and to threaten Israel.”


The report accused Iran of “covertly supplying arms to Afghan insurgents while publicly posing as supportive of the Afghan government. Shipments typically include small arms, mines, rockets, mortars, and plastic explosives.”  The report stated that Iran’s primarily concern in the short term is to preserve its national security and undermine western influence in Afghanistan, which “provides Iran’s rational for providing select Afghan insurgencies with lethal aid.”  This means that “Iran’s policy calculation in Afghanistan currently emphasizes lethal support to the Taliban, even though revelation of this activity could threaten its future relationship with the Afghan government and its historic allies within Afghanistan.”



Sahar Zubairy

Sahar Zubairy recently graduated from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas- Austin with Masters in Global Policy Studies. She graduated from Texas A&M University with Phi Beta Kappa honors in May 2006 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics. In Summer 2008, she was the Southwest Asia/Gulf Intern at the Henry L. Stimson Center, where she researched Iran and the Persian Gulf. She was also a member of a research team that helped develop a website investigating the possible effects of closure of the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf by Iran.