Powell Says Iran Is Pursuing Bomb

Powell Says Iran Is Pursuing Bomb (WaPo, A01)

The United States has intelligence that Iran is working to adapt missiles to deliver a nuclear weapon, further evidence that the Islamic republic is determined to acquire a nuclear bomb, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said Wednesday. Separately, an Iranian opposition exile group charged in Paris that Iran is enriching uranium at a secret military facility unknown to U.N. weapons inspectors. Iran has denied seeking to build nuclear weapons. “I have seen some information that would suggest that they have been actively working on delivery systems. . . . You don’t have a weapon until you put it in something that can deliver a weapon,” Powell told reporters traveling with him to Chile for an Asia-Pacific economic summit. “I’m not talking about uranium or fissile material or the warhead; I’m talking about what one does with a warhead.”

Powell’s comments came just three days after an agreement between Iran and three European countries — Britain, France and Germany — designed to limit Tehran’s ability to divert its peaceful nuclear energy program for military use. The primary focus of the deal, accepted by Iran on Sunday and due to go into effect Nov. 22, is a stipulation that Iran indefinitely suspend its uranium enrichment program.

We’ve known for years that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. Surely, acquiring delivery systems is easier than acquiring the materials to make the warheads.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. mike says:

    Iran knows that there is nothing the world can do to stop them now that the US is bogged down in its Iraq quagmire and the UN is being the typical UN and issuing statements and appeasing any possible threats (Sudan, Iran). Keep it up George and Kofi – better yet, call a summit.

  2. LJD says:

    Powell was recently referred to as the moderate voice in the Bush administration, so this ought to clearly define where the U.S. is on this subject.

    I believe there will always be something we can do to stop Iran. There is just may not be any conventional solution. If they are venturing into dangerous territory, airstrikes may be an option. I just don’t see an invasion happening. Therefore the issue has nothing to do with Iraq.

    If and when Iran develops a deliverable system, they will join the company of nuclear deterrence. If they are inclined to use it, the consequences would be devastating for their country, and I’m not talking about tanks and paratroopers…

  3. McGehee says:

    Iran knows that there is nothing the world can do to stop them now that the US is bogged down in its Iraq quagmire

    If that’s what Iran chooses to believe, they may be in for a rude awakening. But I think they’re well aware there are American troops in countries on both sides of Iran.

    They’re rattling sabers in hopes of stirring up the mythical Muslim “street” against possible military action against the mullarchy. That’s a misjudgment too.

  4. paladin says:

    It’s deja vu all over again! This sounds like a repeat of Iraq. We “know” Iran is nuclear, we “knew” Iraq was nuclear. Don’t get me wrong, I support the war in Iraq, but I imagine many will be skepical of these claims considering no WMD have been found in Iraq, and may not be found. (Hint, look in Syria!) I have a feeling the “international community” and others will not be convinced just because we say so. I hope I’m wrong.