CIA Chief Says Iran Is Not Resuming Nuclear Weapons Program
In a weekend CBS interview, CIA Director William Burns offered a surprising and blunt assessment which contradicts much media reporting over Iran and its nuclear program.
Days ago multiple international reports claimed that Iran is now enriching uranium to 84%, which would bring it very close to obtaining the level of purity needed for a bomb. Burns in the new interview also advanced this figure, but at the same time said his agency believed the Islamic Republic is "not resuming" its nuclear weapons program.
But he did stress that should the Iranians decide to take final crucial steps toward nuclear weapons capability, it would merely be "a matter of weeks" before achieving a nuclear bomb.
"If they chose to cross that line," he explained, Tehran would only need a "matter of weeks" to enrich uranium necessary to reach nuclear weapons grade. Currently, talks to restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA) are effectively dead, and the Biden administration is no longer actively pursuing a deal, blaming the Iranians for the collapse of the Vienna process.
The "Face the Nation" interview aired Sunday, and while most headlines emphasized that Tehran's nuclear program is advancing at "worrisome pace", his words contained the following admission:
"To the best of our knowledge, we don't believe that the Supreme Leader in Iran has yet made a decision to resume the weaponization program that we judge that they suspended or stopped at the end of 2003," Burns told show host Margaret Brennan. "But the other two legs of the stool, meaning enrichment programs, they've obviously advanced very far."
But regardless, Iran's regional enemy #1 Israel does believe Tehran is pursuing nukes. For this reason the hardline Netanyahu government has stressed time and again that it reserves freedom of action to intervene militarily to stop Iran's threatening program.
CIA Director Bill Burns says the US doesn’t believe that Iran’s supreme leader has decided to resume the nuclear weapons program.pic.twitter.com/AYPz2jPoeW— Joseph Haboush (@jhaboush) February 25, 2023
This also as Israel sees any potential Iranian acquirement of the bomb as an existential threat to the Jewish state. Recent years have seen Israeli drone attacks as well as suspected sabotage operations against Iran's nuclear facilities, and even the assassination of a top Iranian nuclear scientist in a high risk covert operation using a remote-controlled machine gun.
But CIA director Burns has been fairly consistent in saying Iran is not actively pursuing nukes (which suggests the Iranian official explanation of a peaceful nuclear energy program could be accurate). For example in 2021 he made the exact same assessment, which was also controversial at the time.