In a CBS interview over the weekend, CIA Director William Burns offered an assessment which, coming from US officials, would be a huge admission and potentially of much consequence. Burns reported Iran is “not resuming” its nuclear weapons program, which it ended decades ago, and has made no decisions on even attempting to.
The US has long been vague on whether or not Iran is really trying to make arms. Iran says they aren’t, and has ruled out ever doing so on religious grounds. Analysts have also been concluding for years that Iran is not actively trying to make atomic weapons.
Having the US spy chief make such a public admission should portend a policy shift back toward diplomacy with Iran. It may also lead to a backlash from nations like Israel and Saudi Arabia who want spurious allegations against Iran to continue being treated as impediments to such diplomacy.
Such nations accuse Iran of things left and right, and strongly prefer the US endorsing their accusations. Accusing Iran of nuclear arms development is the life blood of Israel’s aid demands, and now the US CIA chief is contradicting those allegations.
US ambiguity often depends on misinterpreting the facts of Iran’s civilian program, and Burns continues to struggle with facts, falsely claiming Iran is now enriching uranium to 84%.
In reality, Iran’s enrichment maxes out at 60%, and the production of a few 84% enriched particles was an accidental result of configuring enrichment centrifuges. Even there the production was well-short of weapons grade, and not a proliferation risk, so even being mistaken on that fact it was possible for the CIA to conclude that there is no active weapons program.