The following on Iran's WMD capabilities is taken from the CIA's biannual "Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions," from January1 - June 30, 2003. This report was released November 10, 2003.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has found that "there is no evidence that the previous undeclared nuclear material and activities ... were related to a nuclear weapons program." Not yet, anyway. Director General Mohamed ElBaradei's report adds that Iran's past "pattern of concealment" means "it will take some time before the agency is able to conclude that Iran's nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes."
Europe is celebrating the British, French and German foreign ministers' diplomatic coup in Tehran last week. The three foreign ministers succeeded in convincing Iran to agree to suspend uranium enrichment activities and to sign the Additional Protocol to its IAEA safeguards agreement, authorizing more intrusive inspections. Most European commentators are hailing this breakthrough as an important achievement for Europe. The Austrian Der Standard called it "the greatest success for European diplomacy in ten years of political union, since the Maastricht Treaty."
On October 21, Iran announced that it would temporarily suspend its uranium enrichment program and sign the Additional Protocol, requiring more robust inspections. Iranian officials declined to specify the duration or form of this suspension. The tougher inspection system would authorize International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors to perform spot checks of any suspicious sites, without prior notice. Dr. Rowhani, head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, stated that Iran would probably sign the protocol before the November 20th IAEA board meeting.
On October 8, Iran's President Mohammed Khatami said Tehran will cooperate "to assure the world that we are not pursuing nuclear weapons, which truly we are not.'' He also, however, reaffirmed Iran's determination to continue enriching uranium as its "obvious legal right." This is the core dilemma. The October 31 IAEA-imposed deadline for Iran is fast approaching. Will Iran, as required, resolve all outstanding questions on its nuclear program, and suspend all its uranium-enrichment activity?
The International Atomic Energy Agency has demanded that Iran give a full and final accounting of its nuclear activities by Oct. 31, or risk action by the U.N. Security Council. Iran's eastern neighbor, Pakistan, and Pakistan's traditional rival, India, have already tested nuclear weapons. India's neighbor and rival, China, has been a nuclear power for many years.
Listen to a panel discussion with Thomas L. Friedman, Adel Abdellatif, and Gilles Kepel.