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Iran's Nuclear Ambitions

Michael Hayden, Director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, says he believes the Iranian government is still interested in developing nuclear weapons. Mr. Hayden was interviewed on NBC’s “Meet the Press”:

“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?”

In March, the United Nations Security Council adopted a third round of legally-binding sanctions on Iran for its refusal to comply with three prior Security Council resolutions. The resolutions call on Iran to suspend proliferation-sensitive nuclear activities, including all uranium enrichment-related projects.

Alongside the Security Council sanctions, the United States has initiated measures aimed at protecting the international financial system from Iran’s illicit financial activities. Those activities fund Iran’s proliferation-sensitive programs prohibited by the Security Council, as well as Iran’s support for terrorist organizations.

The United States is committed to a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear issue. The UN has offered Iran a generous package of incentives, including active cooperation on civil nuclear energy, if Iran agrees to comply with its Security Council obligations to suspend enrichment. Iran also needs to cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency to restore confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its program.

CIA Director Hayden says, “It’s very difficult . . . .to judge intent” when it comes to Iran:

“So we have to work back from actions. Why the continuing production of fissile material, at [the nuclear facility at] Natanz? They [Iranian government leaders] say it’s for civilian purposes, and yet . . . .states around the world have offered them fissile material under controls, so they can have their civilian nuclear program. But the Iranians have rejected that.”

“When you. . . . get, not just the United States, but . . . .the UN Security Council imposing sanctions on them, why would they go through that,” said CIA Director Michael Hayden, “if it were not to develop the technology that would allow them to create fissile material not under international control?”