CIA analysis finds no Iranian
nuclear weapons drive: report
By Agence France-Presse
11/19/06 "AFP"-- -- WASHINGTON - A classified draft CIA
assessment has found no firm evidence of a secret drive by
Iran to develop nuclear weapons, as alleged by the White
House, a top US investigative reporter said on Saturday.
Seymour Hersh, writing in an article for the November 27
issue of the magazine The New Yorker released in advance,
reported on whether the administration of Republican
President George W. Bush was more, or less, inclined to
attack Iran after Democrats won control of Congress last
A month before the November 7 legislative elections, Hersh
wrote, Vice President Dick Cheney attended a
national-security discussion that touched on the impact of
Democratic victory in both chambers on Iran policy.
“If the Democrats won on November 7th, the vice president
said, that victory would not stop the administration from
pursuing a military option with Iran,” Hersh wrote, citing a
source familiar with the discussion.
Cheney said the White House would circumvent any legislative
restrictions “and thus stop Congress from getting in its
way,” he said.
The Democratic victory unleashed a surge of calls for the
Bush administration to begin direct talks with Iran.
But the administration’s planning of a military option was
made ”far more complicated” in recent months by a highly
classified draft assessment by the Central Intelligence
Agency “challenging the White House’s assumptions about how
close Iran might be to building a nuclear bomb,” he wrote.
“The CIA found no conclusive evidence, as yet, of a secret
Iranian nuclear-weapons program running parallel to the
civilian operations that Iran has declared to the
International Atomic Energy Agency,” Hersh wrote, adding the
CIA had declined to comment on that story.
A current senior intelligence official confirmed the
existence of the CIA analysis and said the White House had
been hostile to it, he wrote.
Cheney and his aides had discounted the assessment, the
“They’re not looking for a smoking gun,” the official was
quoted as saying, referring to specific intelligence about
Iranian nuclear planning.
“They’re looking for the degree of comfort level they think
they need to accomplish the mission.”
The United States and other major powers believe Iran’s
uranium enrichment program is ultimately aimed at producing
fissile material for nuclear weapons.
Iran insists it will use the enriched uranium only to fuel
nuclear power stations, something it is permitted to do as a
signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The major powers have been debating a draft United Nations
resolution drawn up by Britain, France and Germany that
would impose limited sanctions on Iran’s nuclear and
ballistic missile sectors for Tehran’s failure to comply
with an earlier UN resolution on halting enrichment.
On Wednesday, Israel’s outgoing US ambassador Danny Ayalon
said in an interview that Bush would not hesitate to use
force against Iran to halt its nuclear program if other
“US President George W. Bush will not hesitate to use force
against Iran in order to halt its nuclear program,” Ayalon
told the Maariv daily.
Israel, widely considered the Middle East’s sole if
undeclared nuclear power, views Iran as its arch-foe,
pointing to repeated calls by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
to wipe the Jewish state off the map.
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