" it is unclear whether Tehran has returned to its production of nuclear weapons" - I could've told you that. The job of an intelligence chief is to make it clear.
"We..assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons," No kidding!
"We assess with high confidence that Iran has the scientific, technical and industrial capacity eventually to produce nuclear weapons". My dog knows that.
Speaking two months after an American intelligence report cast doubt on Tehran's nuclear ambitions, National Intelligence Director John Michael McConnell made his remarks during an appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee to present an annual report on threats to the U.S.
A National Intelligence Estimate report released in December said that Iran halted its nuclear weapons development program in the fall of 2003.
"We remain concerned about Iran's intentions and assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons," the report said.
"We assess with high confidence that Iran has the scientific, technical and industrial capacity eventually to produce nuclear weapons," it said, adding that the only realistic way to prevent Iran from producing such weapons was "an Iranian political decision to abandon a nuclear weapons objective."
McConnell expressed skepticism at the ability of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah movement to deliver security for Israel and to overcome Hamas' efforts to stymie the political process.
He said that despite pressures on Hamas, "the group remains fairly unified, especially its military wing, and in charge in the Gaza Strip where itcontrols all PA facilities. Hamas continues to curtail freedoms and to harass Fatah members."
McConnell said however, that the U.S. recognizes signs of Fatah's progress in the West Bank, praising "renewed security and law enforcement cooperation with Israeli forces in taking more effective action against Hamas."
There was no mention in the report of the Israel Air Force attack on Syria in September 2007, which foreign news sources have speculated was a strike on a nuclear facility built with North Korean assistance. He said, however, that North Korea, which has sold ballistic missiles to Iran and other Middle Eastern countries, could "proliferate nuclear weapons abroad."
The intelligence chief also estimated that Iran and Syria will boost their support for Hezbollah, Hamas and other Palestinian terror organizations. He accused Syria and Hezbollah of interfering with the Lebanese presidential elections.
He warned that rising tensions in Lebanon could result in a fresh civil war, and the return to armed "militias" within the country.
"Many former militias in Lebanon are reconstituting, rearming, and retraining their fighters," he said. "The increased political and sectarian tension also raises the potential for civil war within the country."
In addition, McConnell raised the threat of Al-Qaida in Lebanon, maintaining it continues to threaten the country's internal security.