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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Takeyh: Immediate Threat of War with Iran Now Reduced

Council on Foreign Relations

Interviewee: Ray Takeyh, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies
Interviewer: Bernard Gwertzman, Consulting Editor

December 4, 2007

Ray Takeyh, CFR’s top Iranian expert, says that the latest National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) presents a mixed picture for Iran policy. The report says that Iran shelved its secret weapons program in 2003, but Takeyh says it also makes clear that the country possesses “a vast and growing civilian nuclear program, which, if it completes the fuel cycle and if it can successfully enrich uranium in large quantities, as it is determined to do, then it still has a nuclear capability that can be easily converted for military purposes.” Takeyh adds that the immediate threat of an attack by the United States against Iran is sharply diminished, but so too is the likelihood of stronger Security Council sanctions.

The Bush administration surprised just about everybody on Monday by issuing a National Intelligence Estimate that contradicted one that had come out just two years earlier. The latest one says that Iran apparently stopped work on a military nuclear program in 2003 and hasn’t resumed it yet, and therefore the chances of its having a nuclear weapon capability now, even with all the civilian nuclear enrichment going on, has been put off as far as 2015. Were you surprised by all of this?

Well, first of all, you said that the Bush administration surprised everyone. Actually, the intelligence community surprised everyone, including the Bush administration. And also the estimate that Iran will achieve nuclear weapons capabilities somewhere between 2009 and 2015 is not remarkable. It’s part of the intelligence community’s and outside experts’ assessments, so that’s not really a particularly exceptional conclusion. And I would need some clarification about what a nuclear weapons program means.

Read the rest of this article on the cfr.org website.

Copyright 2007 by the Council on Foreign Relations. This material is republished on GlobalSecurity.org with specific permission from the cfr.org. Reprint and republication queries for this article should be directed to cfr.org.

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