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Iran Quit Nuclear Weapons Work, Intel Report Says

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Iran's top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili speaks during the International Seminar on Iran's Nuclear Program and Dr. El Baradei's Report in Tehran on Nov. 22, 2007. Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images

Iran may be able to develop a nuclear weapon between 2010 and 2015 — but the country halted its nuclear weapons development program in 2003 due to international pressure, according to a new National Intelligence Estimate report.

The findings, which contradict claims by the Bush administration, suggest that Iran is continuing to enrich uranium, and that it could acquire enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon after 2010, and possibly not until after 2015.

The U.S. intelligence community stated "with high confidence" that Iran ceased its efforts to develop nuclear weapons when international inspections began in fall 2003. The report's authors went on to say that Iran could likely be persuaded to abandon the program further.

Those conclusions were contained in a highly classified document, but its key judgments were declassified and released by the office of the Director of National Intelligence.

In a special White House briefing on the report, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley called it "a complicated estimate."

Hadley said it was "good news" that a dispute over Iran's nuclear program might be resolved without the use of force, but that "the risk of Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon remains a very serious problem."

Hadley also said that the Bush administration had not sought to manipulate the information to help shape U.S. policy on Iran.

Citing a May 2005 report, Hadley said that the intelligence community "assessed with high confidence that Iran currently was determined to develop nuclear weapons."

The intelligence community maintained this assessment throughout this year, 2007," Hadley said, noting that both Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte and his successor, Mike McConnell, reported that Tehran was seeking to develop nuclear weapons.