WASHINGTON (AP) — According to a U.S. intelligence agency, Iran is not currently pursuing nuclear weapons, but has stepped up activities that could help it develop them.
The assessment from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released Monday says Iran has taken steps since 2020 to increase its capacity to produce a nuclear bomb, but has so far stopped.
The findings were consistent with previous US assessments of Iran’s nuclear program, although many in Congress and elsewhere expressed skepticism.
Since taking office, the Biden administration has defended its desire to return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. That effort has been complicated in recent months by the suspension of the chief negotiator, Rob Malley, who was placed on unpaid leave last month pending an investigation into allegations he mishandled classified information.
“Iran is not currently conducting the major nuclear weapons development activities that would be required to produce a testable nuclear device,” the report’s unclassified two-page executive summary said.
However, Iran is also conducting “research and development activities that would bring it closer to producing the fissile material needed to complete a nuclear device following a decision to do so,” the report said.
In that regard, Iran continues to violate the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal regarding uranium enrichment it agreed with world powers, the report said. The Trump administration withdrew from that agreement in 2018.
“Iran continues to increase the size and enrichment level of its uranium stockpile beyond JCPOA limits,” the report said, adding that it also continues to exceed JCPOA limits for research and development of advanced centrifuges.
These findings were generally supported by inspections by the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.
In addition to the nuclear findings, the US intelligence report said Iran’s ballistic missile programs continue to pose a significant threat to Middle Eastern countries. “Iran has placed emphasis on improving the accuracy, lethality and reliability of its missiles,” it said.