Data is Lacking on Irans Arms, U.S.Panel Says


WASHINGTON, March 8 - A commission due to report to President Bush this month will describe American intelligence on Iran as inadequate to allow firm judgments about Iran's weapons programs, according to people who have been briefed on the panel's work. The report comes as intelligence agencies prepare a new formal assessment on Iran, and follows a 14-month review by the panel, which Mr. Bush ordered last year to assess the quality of overall intelligence about the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

The Bush administration has been issuing increasingly sharp warnings about what it says are Iran's efforts to build nuclear weapons. The warnings have been met with firm denials in Tehran, which says its nuclear program is intended purely for civilian purposes. The most complete recent statement by American agencies about Iran and its weapons, in an unclassified report sent to Congress in November by Porter J. Goss, director of central intelligence, said Iran continued "to vigorously pursue indigenous programs to produce nuclear, chemical and biological weapons."

The International Atomic Energy Agency, which has been conducting inspections in Iran for two years, has said it has not found evidence of any weapons program. But the agency has also expressed skepticism about Iran's insistence that its nuclear activities are strictly civilian.

 


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