US review say Iran 10 years from nuclear bomb-WPost

Date: 08-02-05

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A new U.S. intelligence review estimates Iran is about 10 years away from having the ability to build a nuclear bomb, double the previous estimate of five years, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

The analysis includes credible indicators that Iran's military is conducting clandestine work but there is no information directly linking the projects to a nuclear weapons program, the Post said, citing government sources familiar with the classified report.

The Post cited three U.S. sources as saying the new analysis, known as the National Intelligence Estimate, expresses uncertainty about whether Iran's ruling clerics have decided to build nuclear weapons.

But a senior intelligence official was quoted as saying, "It is the judgment of the intelligence community that, left to its own devices, Iran is determined to build nuclear weapons."

Iran said on Monday it was preparing to resume uranium conversion work, defying a European Union warning that it might be hurting chances for a negotiated solution to the dispute over its nuclear program.

The White House warned Iran against restarting the conversion work, saying it could lead the United States and its European allies to seek U.N. action against Tehran.

The United States suspects Iran is using its nuclear energy program as a front to develop weapons. Converting raw uranium into gas is a precursor to producing highly enriched nuclear fuel that could be used to make weapons or used in power stations -- as Iran insists it is doing.

The intelligence estimate on Iran, the first since 2001, was ordered by the National Intelligence Council in January. The findings had not been previously detailed, the Post said.

The newspaper said that U.S. officials have estimated that Iran was about five years away from having the capability to make a nuclear weapon.



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