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The Washington Times has been having a rough time lately.  From the passage of health care reform, Obama’s new START Treaty, and the rumors that they might go out of business, they’ve had to go to some lengths to sell papers.
So imagine my surprise when I read the headline in today’s paper CIA: Iran Capable of Producing Nukes.”
I was, in fact, surprised because the issue of Iran’s nuclear capability is a pretty complex one.  Technically, Iran’s stockpile of over 2,000 kg of low-enriched uranium gives them a so-called “breakout option” to develop nuclear weapons.  However, most experts do not believe Iran is technically capable of mounting a warhead onto a missile and delivering that missile accurately. So I was interested to hear what the CIA might have used to conclude so definitively that Iran is “capable of producing” nuclear weapons.
Sadly for the Washington Times, it turns out the CIA didn’t really say what the headline said they did.
Here’s what the actual report that the article is based on says (the Iran nuclear section was 2 paragraphs long, followed by some bullet points, so I don’t know why it was so hard to read the whole thing…):

We continue to assess Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons though we do not know whether Tehran eventually will decide to produce nuclear weapons.  Iran continues to develop a range of capabilities that could be applied to producing nuclear weapons, if a decision is made to do so.
During the reporting period, Iran continued to expand its nuclear infrastructure and continued uranium enrichment and activities related to its heavy water research reactor, despite multiple United Nations Security Council Resolutions since late 2006 calling for the suspension of those activities.  Although Iran made progress in expanding its nuclear infrastructure during 2009, some obstacles slowed progress during this period.

So there you have it: Iran’s nuclear program has continued, though it’s run into quite a few bumps along the way. The report goes on to outline a number of technical flaws that have thrown a real wrench into their program’s expansion.
Thanks for the scoop, Washington Times!

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