CIA director believes Iran still pursuing nuclear bomb

The director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Michael V. Hayden, has said that he believes Iran is still pursuing nuclear weapons, even though a US intelligence report had reached a different assessment last year.

Asked on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ whether he thought Iran was trying to develop a nuclear weapon, Hayden answered “yes,” adding that his assessment was not based on “court-of-law stuff. . . . This is Mike Hayden looking at the body of evidence.”

He said his conviction stemmed largely from Iran’s willingness to endure international sanctions rather than comply with demands for nuclear inspections and abandon its efforts to develop technologies that can produce fissile material.

“Why would the Iranians be willing to pay the international tariff they appear willing to pay for what they’re doing now if they did not have, at a minimum … the desire to keep the option open to develop a nuclear weapon and, perhaps even more so, that they’ve already decided to do that?” he said.

A report last December by the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), also signed off by the CIA, concluded that Iran had suspended its nuclear weapons work in 2003, soon after the United States invaded Iraq, and appeared not to have restarted it. Hayden is the latest senior Bush administration official to question the findings of the NIE.

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