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British intelligence has disputed an American assessment that Iran has not resumed work building a warhead for a nuclear weapon.
The Financial Times and New York Times have separately reported that Western and Israeli intelligence agencies are in the throes of a dispute over the exact nature of Iran's work to build a functioning atom bomb.
Following the discovery of a secret plant outside the holy city of Qom, US intelligence hopes that it has made a breakthrough in finding out how much covert work Iran is undertaking.
The New York Times quoted a US official claiming Qom "was the big one" but he added Iran was a big country.
British officials told the Financial Times that Iran resumed work on a nuclear warhead design in "late 2004 or early 2005." The US assessment is that worked stopped after an order was handed down by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in 2003 and there is no conclusive evidence that it has restarted.
One former US official acknowledged there were deep differences between international intelligence agencies. "It's often the tradecraft that gets us bollixed up," said Rolf Mowatt-Larssen. "It comes down to interpreting the same data in different ways."
The shadow of faulty assessments used to pave the way to the Iraq war hangs over intelligence agencies attempts to reach conclusions about Iran.
"We'd let the country down, and we wanted to make sure it would never happen again," said Thomas Fingar, who led the State Department's intelligence bureau, which disputed the weapons of mass distruction assessment before the Iraq war. "Now, it's much more of a transparent tussle of ideas."
While the American view is that the design work has still not resumed but Germany, Israel and Britain are more hawkish.
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Originally posted by SmokeJaguar67
Is this the very same MI6 who passed on intelligence that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction and rebuilding its arsenal?
These people (I use that term very loosely) must think we are stupid