Iran's Advances Lead to Delay in U.S. Intel Estimate Iran's recent announcement that it started producing nuclear fuel on an industrial scale has led analysts to re-examine their ideas about how soon Iran could produce a nuclear bomb. The National Intelligence Council has delayed delivery of the new National Intelligence Estimate on Iran.

Iran's Advances Lead to Delay in U.S. Intel Estimate

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To Iran now and questions about its nuclear program. For months, U.S. spy agencies have been working on a new National Intelligence Estimate on Iran. The effort is behind schedule. That's because of Tehran's recent announcement that it has begun producing nuclear fuel on an industrial scale.

As NPR's Mary Louise Kelly reports, analysts are weighing that and other new information trying to decide whether to revise the long-standing judgment that Iran is five to 10 years away from a bomb.

MARY LOUISE KELLY: It's been two years since the last NIE, National Intelligence Estimate, on Iran. In that time, U.S. intelligence has consistently judged that the earliest Iran might get a nuclear weapon is 2010, and that the more likely date is several years later, around 2015. But today, Thomas Fingar, the most senior U.S. intelligence analyst, suggested in an interview with NPR that new information might change that.

Mr. THOMAS FINGAR (Chairman, National Intelligence Council): That is one of the questions that we've got to weigh the new information to see what that does to our judgment.

KELLY: Fingar is also chairman of the National Intelligence Council, which produces NIEs. The Iran NIE was originally expected early this spring. Fingar says it slowed down a bit due to Iran's announcement about industrial-scale production, as well as new reporting from the IAEA, the United Nations nuclear watchdog group, and quote, "some other new information that we have." Fingar says analysts are sifting through all this and asking some new questions about Iran's nuclear timeline.

Mr. FINGAR: It might change in the sense that we are serious about reexamining old evidence, looking at new evidence and not simply carrying forward what we had. So it might change, but it might change because we're trying to be completely open-minded - a fresh look at the subject.

KELLY: Iran's claims have been greeted with some skepticism in the West. Tehran has a history of exaggerating its nuclear progress, and its nuclear program has been dogged by technical glitches.

Mary Louise Kelly, NPR News, Washington.

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