Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions: A Baseline Assessment

05.13.09 | 1 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

A new report from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee discusses what is known about Iran’s potential for developing nuclear weapons, as well as what is suspected or imagined.

“There is no sign that Iran’s leaders have ordered up a bomb,” the report notes. “But unclassified interviews… make clear that Iran has moved closer to completing the three components for a nuclear weapon–fissile material, warhead design and delivery system,” the report stated.  Resolving suspicions about the potential military aspects of Iran’s nuclear program “will be one of the most difficult [issues] confronting negotiators for the two countries and the international community,” wrote Committee chairman Sen. John Kerry in his transmittal letter.

See “Iran: Where We Are Today,” A Report to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, May 4, 2009.

Similarly, “We do not know whether Iran currently intends to develop nuclear weapons, although we assess Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons by continuing to develop a range of technical capabilities that could be applied to producing nuclear weapons, if a decision is made to do so,” according to another report (pdf) drafted for the U.S. Intelligence Community by the CIA’s Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation, and Arms Control Center (WINPAC).

See “Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions, 1 January Through 31 December 2008,” Unclassified Report to Congress, March 2009.