By Pam Benson
American officials are adamant. The U.S. will respond - possibly with military force - if Iran crosses a red line and decides to actually make nuclear weapons.
But will the U.S. know with an degree of certainty that a line has been crossed?
The decision itself to push ahead really comes down to one person, according to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Clapper told a Senate hearing recently that any decision would be based on "the supreme leader's world view and the extent to which he thinks that would benefit the state of Iran or, conversely, not benefit."
Clapper was referring to Ayatollah Ali Khameini, the supreme leader of Iran.
by Suzanne Kelly
Iran's announcement that it has begun enriching uranium at an underground facility doesn't come as a surprise to nuclear security experts, but it does worry them that the program moves Tehran one step closer to developing a nuclear weapon.
"They announced last summer that they were going to do this," said David Albright, president of the non-profit Institute for Science and International Security in Washington. "It's part of this gradual process that I think shows Iran is on their way to developing nuclear weapons."
Iran says some 3,000 centrifuges are in operation at Qom, with an additional 8,000 machines capable of enriching uranium at its Natanz facility.
A massive explosion at an Iranian missile base, and indications that a crippling computer virus may have struck some of the country's industrial computers, are just some of the latest indications that efforts to sabotage Iran's nuclear program from the outside may be underway. Jill Dougherty reports.
By Adam Levine and Pam Benson
Iran's efforts to develop its nuclear program have been stymied by a slew of challenges from international sanctions and set back by the 2010 Stuxnet cyber attack, two new reports from a Washington nuclear think tank conclude.
The report by former weapons inspector David Albright's Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) says Iran has been forced to use inferior parts and weaker metals, according to officials the group has spoken to at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) because sanctions have limited access to needed materials.
"Ten years after the start of construction at the Natanz enrichment site, the probability that Iran will build tens of thousands of centrifuges seems remote based on their faulty performance," one of the reports notes. "Even with advanced centrifuges, Iran may be blocked by sanctions from building advanced centrifuges in large enough numbers."
The Natanz enrichment site was crippled when a computer virus attacked a portion of the centrifuges. But the ISIS report notes enrichment numbers have rebounded to a higher level than before Stuxnet, after a brief dip. But the IAEA noted in recent reports that not all the centrifuges are necessarily enriching. Albright's report says that the Stuxnet worm may have decreased the lifespan of aging centrifuges, even if they were not broken right away, by forcing them to spin at altered speeds. FULL POST