WASHINGTON/BRUSSELS: Iran could not produce enough highly enriched uranium for an atomic bomb without it being detected, U.S. National Intelligence Director James Clapper said Tuesday.
While Iran has moved forward with its uranium enrichment efforts, “we assess Iran could not divert safeguarded material and produce a weapon-worth of WGU [weapons-grade uranium] before this activity is discovered,” Clapper said in an annual report to Congress on global threats.
Iran’s declared nuclear sites are subject to monitoring from the U.N.’s atomic watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, as well as clandestine surveillance from U.S. and other spy services.
The assessment reiterated an intelligence agencies’ analysis last year that Iran had not yet opted to build nuclear weapons and that the regime’s policy was based on a “cost-benefit” approach.
“We do not know if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons,” Clapper said.
But because Iranian leaders put a high priority on preserving their power and would carefully weigh the risks of obtaining nuclear weapons, the United States and its allies had an opportunity to exert influence over Tehran’s ultimate decision, he added.
The American intelligence community also believe Iranian leaders are not seeking a direct confrontation with the United States, the report said.
In Brussels, the European Union imposed sanctions on an Iranian police unit monitoring the Internet, as well as on several judges and media bosses the bloc blames for human rights violations in the Islamic Republic.
The move brings the number of people targeted by EU asset freezes and visa bans over concerns about human rights in Iran to nearly 90. Among those newly listed is a judge, Morteza Kiasati, who imposed death sentences on four Iranian Arab political prisoners.
“They were arrested, tortured and hanged without due process,” the EU said in its official journal. “These cases and the lack of due process were referenced in a report ... by the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Iran.”
Mohammad Sarafraz, the head of both IRIB, Iran’s state broadcaster, and Press TV, the state English-language TV news channel, was listed for cooperating with security services and prosecutors to broadcast forced confessions of detainees. Press TV’s newsroom director was also listed.