Iran wants to end nuke secrecy to move ahead openly

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Iran's president wants to shed the nation's secrecy and forge ahead openly with developing nuclear weapons but is opposed by the clerical leadership, which is worried about international reaction to such a move, says an intelligence assessment.

That view, from a nation with traditionally reliable intelligence from the region, cannot be confirmed and contrasts with assessments by other countries that view Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as relatively moderate on the nuclear issue compared to the country's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Attempts to interpret Iran's goals are important because as it expands uranium enrichment, it is moving closer to being able to make a nuclear weapon by the day, even as it asserts that it is not interested in such arms and its programmes are geared only to making reactor fuel.

A US official cited one assessment he has seen suggesting Ahmadinejad may be more ‘moderate’ and more open to talks with the international community on resolving nuclear concerns than Khamenei.

He asked for anonymity because his information was privileged. But a blunt comment by Ahmadinejad last month raises questions. While repeating that Iran does not want nuclear arms, he openly reinforced its ability to make them, telling Iranian state TV that ‘if we want to make a bomb, we are not afraid of anybody.’

That defiant statement fits the scenario laid down by the intelligence report, depicting Ahmadinejad as wanting to move publicly to develop a nuclear programme.

Ahmadinejad is pushing ‘to shake free of the restraints Iran has imposed upon itself, and openly push forward to create a nuclear bomb,’ says data.

But Khamenei, whose word is final on nuclear and other issues, ‘wants to progress using secret channels, due to concern about a severe response from the West,’ says the report.

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