Pulitzer Prize winning reporter on nuclear arms
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12/11/07 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Tuesday | Listen to this entire show:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today called a U.S. intelligence report concluding Iran stopped its nuclear weapons program four years ago a "step forward." The comments marked a change from Ahmadinejad's usually harsh anti-Western rhetoric.

Although Iran denies it ever had such a program, Ahmadinejad told reporters that an "entirely different" situation between the two countries could be created if more steps like the intelligence report followed.

Iran has said its nuclear program is peaceful, but until last week the United States and Western allies had argued that the Iranians were secretly trying to developing atomic weapons.

The new U.S. intelligence assessment on Iran said Tehran once had a weapons program but shelved it in the fall of 2003. The U.S. National Intelligence Estimate was in stark contrast to a 2005 estimate that said Tehran was continuing its weapons development.

Ahmadinejad repeated a previous invitation to President Bush for a public debate and said Iran was studying requests from U.S. officials to come to Iran. He did not elaborate.

Back in Washington, President Bush wants Iran to explain to the world about its secret nuclear weapons program. He made his comments during a meeting with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano.

Meanwhile, the Iranian opposition group that first exposed Iran’s nuclear-fuel program said that the NIE is correct that Tehran shut down its weapons program in 2003, but claims the program was relocated and restarted in 2004.

The claim was made by the National Council for Resistance in Iraq, or NCRI, which is the political wing of the Mujahedin e-Khalq. The announcement was made today.

A former U.S. intelligence official told the Wall Street Journal that all the intelligence related to the NIE was being reassessed and that information coming from sources like the NCRI would be included.

Investigative reporter Douglas Frantz writes extensively about nuclear weapons in his new book, The Nuclear Jihadist. He told WMNF today that nobody knows for certain if Iran is moving toward a nuclear weapons program, but Frantz says historically, virtually every nation that has ever done so has told the rest of the world that they were only building a nuclear civilian program.

You’ll hear more from Frantz tomorrow night on the Evening News.

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