CIA director skeptical of Iran sanctions

June 28, 2010

The Washington Times

Targeted economic sanctions on Iran probably will not deter Tehran from seeking a nuclear capability, CIA chief Leon E. Panetta said Sunday.

Urged on by the Obama administration, the U.N. Security Council this month passed a resolution to impose new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear development. New sanctions also were agreed on by the European Union and the U.S. Congress.

In an interview with ABC’s “This Week” program, Mr. Panetta said the new sanctions could create serious economic problems and help weaken the Tehran government.

“Will it deter them [Iran] from their ambitions with regards to nuclear capability? Probably not,” he said, adding that Iran was continuing to develop its nuclear know-how.

The United States thinks Iran has enough low-enriched uranium now for two weapons, but Iran would have to enrich it first, the Central Intelligence Agency director said.

“And we would estimate that if they made that decision, it would probably take a year to get there, probably another year to develop the kind of weapons-delivery system in order to make that viable,” Mr. Panetta said.

The Islamic republic vehemently denies the charge, but has been flexing its military muscle, mainly in the strategic Persian Gulf region by staging regular war games and showcasing an array of Iran-manufactured missiles.

Later Sunday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said he was alarmed by the CIA’s claims that Iran had material for two bombs within two years and warned that Tehran may face new measures.

“Such information is always alarming, because today the international community does not recognize the Iranian nuclear program as transparent,” Mr. Medvedev said after a world economic summit in Canada. “If it is shown that what the American special services say is true, then it will of course make the situation more tense, and I do not exclude” looking at additional actions against Iran.

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