New York, March 11, IRNA -- Iran has not produced the highly enriched uranium necessary for a nuclear weapon and has not decided to do so, U.S. intelligence officials told Congress, according to the Washington Post.
Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair said that Iran has not decided to pursue the production of weapons-grade uranium and the parallel ability to load it onto a ballistic missile.
"The overall situation -- and the intelligence community agrees on this -- [is] that Iran has not decided to press forward . . . to have a nuclear weapon on top of a ballistic missile," Blair told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
"Our current estimate is that the minimum time at which Iran could technically produce the amount of highly enriched uranium for a single weapon is 2010 to 2015."
Blair said there may be no connection between the country's development of missiles and any ambition to have nuclear weapons.
"I believe those are separate decisions," Blair said. "The same missiles can launch vehicles into space. They can launch warheads, either conventional or nuclear, onto . . . land targets, and Iran is pursuing those -- for those multiple purposes. Whether they develop a nuclear weapon which could then be put in that . . . warhead, I believe, is a . . . separate decision which Iran has not made yet."
Blair said Israel was working from the same facts but had drawn a different interpretation of their meaning.
"The Israelis are far more concerned about it, and they take more of a worst-case approach to these things from their point of view," he said.
IRNA diplomatic correspondent said that the US has to admit that the propaganda campaign over Iranian nuclear program had been fabricated by Israel prior to mending ties with Iran.
"The US methodology has focused on admission of the mistakes of the past and that the US had embarked on unfair propaganda against Iran under the so-called intelligence provided by Israel."
Iran is a signatory to Non-Proliferation Treaty and cameras of the International Atomic Energy Agency are monitoring Iranian nuclear sites round-the-clock.
IAEA has verified non-diversion of Iranian nuclear program and Iran renounced nuclear weapons as forbidden in Islam.
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei in a religious decree has banned production of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction.
"Any weapons which kills or poisons a large number of people are forbidden in Islam," the Supreme Leader said.
The Supreme Leader said that Iran refrained from reciprocal action when Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against Iranian soldiers in 1980s, because such weapons are forbidden in Islam.
Talking to the website of the weekly Der Spiegel news magazine, Pickering said, "Under this approach, the Iranian government would agree to allow two or more additional governments -- for example, France and Germany -- to participate in the management and operation of those activities within Iran."
"In exchange, Tehran would be able to jointly own and operate an enrichment facility without facing international sanctions," he added.
Pickering stressed resolving the nuclear issue would, in turn, make it possible to end sanctions and for Iran "to enjoy a variety of other benefits, such as membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO), increased trade with Europe and, perhaps, normalized relations with the United States."
The ex-US official has repeatedly said sanctions and threats have failed to force Iran to abandon its enrichment program to which it is entitled under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
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