US Spies Are Voice of Caution in Iran Debate

Israelis, Europeans believe Tehran is developing warheads
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 29, 2009 11:00 AM CDT
This satellite image taken Sunday Sept. 27, 2009 shows a suspected nuclear enrichment facility under construction inside a mountain located about 20 miles north northeast of Qom, Iran.   (AP Photo/DigitalGlobe)
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(Newser) – The global intelligence community is at odds over whether Iran is developing nuclear warheads, with US spies insisting it isn’t, and European and Israeli spies begging to differ. In what the New York Times calls a “mirror image” of the Iraq debate, the US say documents found by hacking Iranian computers prove the program halted in 2003. The Israelis, however, believe it was restarted in 2005, and the Germans say it never stopped.

US officials say those cases are flimsy and circumstantial. The key to the debate could be the recently uncovered Qom site. One US official says it’s probably “the big one,” bearing all the marks they’d expect from a weapons facility. The Christian Science Monitor notes that what we know thus far about Qom fits with what we'd expect of a covert facility: hidden, small, and likely constructed in 2005, perhaps a second attempt at creating a secret site after word of its first clandestine facility leaked in 2003.