Iran: Nuclear Intentions – U.S. National Intelligence Estimate – November 2007

On Monday December 3, 2007 the U.S. Intelligence agencies released a new National Intelligence Estimate which concludes that Iran halted a nuclear weapons program in 2003, though it continues to enrich uranium, ostensibly for peaceful purposes.

For the convenience of our readers we are posting below without any editorial comment of our own a copy of the ScopeNote of the Intelligence Estimate and a link to the full document:

S c o p e N o t e
This National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) assesses the status of Iran’s nuclear program, and the program’s outlook over the next 10 years. This time frame is more appropriate for estimating capabilities than intentions and foreign reactions, which are more difficult to estimate over a decade. In presenting the Intelligence Community’s assessment of Iranian nuclear intentions and capabilities, the NIE thoroughly reviews all available information on these questions, examines the range of reasonable scenarios consistent with this information, and describes the key actors we judge would drive or impede nuclear progress in Iran. This NIE is an extensive reexamination of the issues in the May 2005 assessment.

This Estimate focuses on the following key questions:

• What are Iran’s intentions toward developing nuclear weapons?

• What domestic factors affect Iran’s decision making on whether to develop nuclear weapons?

• What external factors affect Iran’s decision making on whether to develop nuclear weapons?

• What is the range of potential Iranian actions concerning the development of nuclear weapons, and the decisive factors that would lead Iran to choose one course of action over another?

• What is Iran’s current and projected capability to develop nuclear weapons? What are our key assumptions, and Iran’s key chokepoints/vulnerabilities?

This NIE does not assume that Iran intends to acquire nuclear weapons. Rather, it examines the intelligence to assess Iran’s capability and intent (or lack thereof) to acquire nuclear weapons, taking full account of Iran’s dual-use uranium fuel cycle and those nuclear activities that are at least partly civil in nature.

This Estimate does assume that the strategic goals and basic structure of Iran’s senior leadership and government will remain similar to those that have endured since the death of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989. We acknowledge the potential for these to change during the time frame of the Estimate, but are unable to confidently predict such changes or their implications. This Estimate does not assess how Iran may conduct future negotiations with the West on the nuclear issue.

This Estimate incorporates intelligence reporting available as of 31 October 2007.

Intelligence Estimate: Iran – Nuclear Intentions

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