Clapper: Iran Can Now Build Nukes
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday that Iran now possesses the capacity to build nuclear weapons. In a report submitted to the committee, Clapper noted:
Tehran has made technical progress in a number of areas—including uranium enrichment, nuclear reactors, and ballistic missiles—from which it could draw if it decided to build missile-deliverable nuclear weapons. These technical advancements strengthen our assessment that Iran has the scientific, technical, and industrial capacity to eventually produce nuclear weapons. This makes the central issue its political will to do so.
Clapper said that despite the recent agreement on a six-month interim deal to slow progress on its nuclear program, Iran still "wants to improve its nuclear and missile capabilities while avoiding severe repercussions—such as a military strike or regime-threatening sanctions." He concluded: "We do not know if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons." The only limit was its supply of the needed fissile uranium.
In addition, Clapper noted that Iran's most likely method for delivering a nuclear weapon was via ballistic missiles, which are not covered under the interim agreement. The agreement, he said, would in theory provide the U.S. a more reliable way to detect if Iran was trying to take the final steps to developing a nuclear weapon.