Yesterday, Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee that U.S. intelligence suggests Iran has not yet decided whether to pursue a nuclear weapon. At the time, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) disagreed with the DNI and, citing no evidence, declared he was “very convinced” that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon.
Appearing on MSNBC this morning, Israeli Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom made similar assertions while responding to a question about the DNI’s assessment that Iran is not yet constructing a nuclear weapon, saying:
SHALOM: Everyone now knows most of the world, if not all the world, knows the Iranians are trying to develop a nuclear bomb. It’s out of the question. They have all the proof. Everyone knows the security and intelligence [services] of the western world knows very well the Iranians are developing a nuclear bomb, and they should be stopped.
But Shalom’s comments, which directly contradict Clapper’s testimony yesterday, also fail to match up with Israeli intelligence assessments on Iran’s nuclear program. Last month, Haaretz’s Amos Harel reported that, “Iran has not yet decided whether to make a nuclear bomb, according to the intelligence assessment Israeli officials will present later this week to Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.”
That assessment would fit with U.S. intelligence estimates and the IAEA’s most recent report which, while expressing concerns about possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program, didn’t conclude that Iran has decided to pursue a nuclear weapon.