News / Middle East

US: Iran Keeping Open Option to Develop Nuclear Weapons

Meredith Buel

Top U.S. intelligence officials say Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons, but has not yet made the decision to build a bomb.  Analysts say if Tehran makes such a decision, it will be capable of producing a nuclear weapon later this year.

Concern continues to mount over Iran’s nuclear program, as tensions between Western nations and Tehran are escalating.  

Tehran says its nuclear plants are used for peaceful energy production.  But the International Atomic Energy Agency cites evidence Iran is researching the development and delivery of nuclear weapons.

“They are certainly moving on that path, but we do not believe they have actually made the decision to go ahead with a nuclear weapon," said U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

In recent months, Iran has begun enriching uranium at an underground plant.  Maseh Zarif of the American Enterprise Institute conducted an analysis of the country’s enrichment program that shows it would not take long to build a bomb.

“By about early summer 2012 they would have a large enough stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium with which they could produce fuel for one nuclear weapon in about 2.5 months," said Zarif.

An estimate by the Israeli military says Iran could make four atomic bombs by further enriching uranium it has already stockpiled.

Iran has the largest inventory of ballistic missiles in the Middle East and U.S. intelligence officials say it would likely use a missile to deliver a nuclear weapon.

"I have come to believe that Iran's leaders are not going to give up their push for a nuclear weapons capability, unless they believe it is going to cost them their hold on power," said Ron Wyden, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Intelligence officials say there is now an increasing threat that Iran could conduct attacks on U.S. interests overseas or even on American soil.

Top Iranian officials were allegedly involved in last year’s failed plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States by bombing a Washington restaurant. 

“It shows me they are becoming increasingly aggressive, that they are willing to absorb more risk and that they are willing to bring the fight here," said analyst Maseh Zarif.

Iran’s central bank has been slapped with tough new U.S. sanctions and the European Union has agreed to embargo Iranian oil by July 1.

The country’s currency is rapidly losing value, forcing up prices in Iranian markets.  The pressure is on, says CIA Director David Petraeus.

“The overall situation is one in which the sanctions have been biting much, much more literally in recent weeks than they have until this time," he said.

Iranian officials have reacted by threatening to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a move the U.S. says would not be allowed to stand.

Another sign, analysts say, a military confrontation could be looming.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More