EU on Iran: enough bomb-grade uranium by Y/E 2008?

As CONTENTIONS readers know, the American intelligence community, in an NIE released last December, stated that it had “high confidence” that Iran shelved its nuclear weapons program in fall 2003. As Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell testified at the Senate Intelligence Committee this month, weapons design is “the least significant” portion of a nuclear weapons program. The most important is obtaining fissile material. In Iran’s case that would be enriched uranium.

The NIE talked about that issue too. It said that Tehran would probably be able to produce enough uranium for a single bomb sometime “during the 2010-2015 time frame.” Yet not everyone agrees with this view. “New simulations carried out by European Union experts come to an alarming conclusion: Iran could have enough highly enriched uranium to build an atomic bomb by the end of this year,” reports Spiegel Online.

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Michael McConnell raises the point that has been obvious to all observers paying the least bit of attention to Iran’s nuke program. Isn’t it astonishing that media outlets endlessly parrot the words of the unclassified summary of the NIE — without ever thinking about what it means? One has to conclude that the reporters are rather dim bulbs, or that they have a party line to defend.