The Guardian: US intelligence agencies expect the Iranian administration to press ahead with its nuclear programme and continue its alleged interference in Iraq, officials said today. Guardian Unlimited
Haroon Siddique and agencies
US intelligence agencies expect the Iranian administration to press ahead with its nuclear programme and continue its alleged interference in Iraq, officials said today.
The pessimistic US assessment came as Iranian state-run television announced that the country’s military had developed a 2,000-pound smart bomb.
The national intelligence estimate on Iran, expected to be shared with the US president, George Bush, and other policymakers within weeks, covered issues ranging from the country’s economy to its weapons programme.
It is one of a series of three reports from the 16 US intelligence agencies, another of which addressed the situation in Iraq.
Officials said the assessment concluded that Iran would continue to pursue a nuclear programme that the US and others believe is aimed at developing nuclear weapons, although the government in Tehran insists the programme is solely for power generation.
Iran will also continue to cause problems in Iraq and be the main backer, along with the Syrian government, of Hezbollah, said the officials.
The US government alleges that elements of Tehran’s military are equipping and training militias involved in sectarian killings, roadside bombings of US troops and other violence in Iraq – allegations that Iran denies.
The assessment also indicated that there was no prospect of regime change, according to officials. The authors predicted that the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, would continue in his position despite popular anger over the country’s economic problems.
The 2,000-pound “smart” bomb, named qased or messenger, could be deployed by Iran’s aging US-made F-4 and F-5 fighter jets and would be officially unveiled next week, Iranian television said, quoting a defence ministry statement.