For purposes of this post, I judge, with moderate confidence, that the National Intelligence Estimate ? Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities represents the good faith conclusions of apolitical professionals. Your judgment may vary.
The most informative way to read this document is to arrange its
?key judgments? in order of the intelligence community?s degree of
confidence, to wit ?
?[I]n fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program.?
?[T]he halt, and Tehran?s announcement of its
decision to suspend its declared uranium enrichment program and sign an
Additional Protocol to its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Safeguards
Agreement, was directed primarily in response to increasing
international scrutiny and pressure resulting from exposure of Iran?s
previously undeclared nuclear work.?
?[T]he halt lasted at least several years.?
?[U]ntil fall 2003, Iranian military entities were working under government direction to develop nuclear weapons.?
?[S]ince fall 2003, Iran has been conducting research and
development projects with commercial and conventional military
applicationssome of which would also be of limited use for nuclear
Iran has not yet ?produce[d] sufficient amounts of fissile material indigenously? to ?have nuclear weapons?.
?Iran will not be technically capable of producing and reprocessing enough plutonium for a weapon before about 2015.?
?Iran has the scientific, technical and industrial capacity eventually to produce nuclear weapons if it decides to do so.?
?Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons.?
?Iran does not currently have a nuclear weapon.?
Iran ?has not obtained enough [fissile material] for a nuclear weapon.?
?[T]he halt to those activities represents a halt to Iran's entire nuclear weapons program.?
?Tehran had not restarted its nuclear weapons program as of mid-2007.?
?[T]he earliest possible date Iran would be technically
capable of producing enough HEU for a weapon is late 2009, but that
this is very unlikely.?
?Iran probably would be technically capable of producing enough HEU for a weapon sometime during the 2010-2015 time frame.?
Iran ?still faces significant technical problems operating? its centrifuges.
?[C]onvincing the Iranian leadership to forgo the
eventual development of nuclear weapons will be difficult given the
linkage many within the leadership probably see between nuclear weapons
development and Iran?s key national security and foreign policy
objectives, and given Iran?s considerable effort from at least the late
1980s to 2003 to develop such weapons.
?Iran probably would use covert facilitiesrather than
its declared nuclear sitesfor the production of highly enriched
uranium for a weapon.?
?Iran probably has imported at least some weapons-usable fissile material.
Unable to Form a Judgment
?[W]e do not know whether [Tehran] currently intends to develop nuclear weapons.?
?We do not have sufficient intelligence to judge
confidently whether Tehran is willing to maintain the halt of its
nuclear weapons program indefinitely while it weighs its options, or
whether it will or already has set specific deadlines or criteria that
will prompt it to restart the program.?
A sober, realistic reading
� 1998 -