Photo Credit: IRNA
Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reviewing one of Iran's nuclear plants.

US President Barack Obama has in recent days received an National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) which upgrades the current view of the progress achieved by Iran’s nuclear program to more critical, according to Western diplomats and high level Israeli officials who spoke to Ha’aretz.

The new evaluation was conducted because of concern within the Administration that Israel would unilaterally attack Iran’s nuclear facilities.

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National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs) are the authoritative assessment by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) on intelligence related to particular national security issues. NIEs are produced by the National Intelligence Council and express the coordinated judgments of the United States Intelligence Community, the group of 16 U.S. intelligence agencies. NIEs are classified documents prepared for policymakers.

This NIE was initially planned to be submitted a few weeks ago, but based on fresh intelligence regarding the military components of Iran’s nuclear program its level of urgency upgraded. It turns out that the report’s findings are nearly identical to the finding’s of Israel’s intelligence community, pointing to Iran’s surprising and significant progress in research and development of several components of its military nuclear program.

Back in July, the Telegraph quoted President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who boasted that “there are currently 11,000 centrifuges active in enrichment facilities” in Iran’s two enrichment sites: Natanz, and the heavily fortified underground bunker of Fordo.

That’s more than the 10,000 centrifuges Iran was supposed to be operating according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The Fordo facility was the most contentious point in the tine-wasting negotiations between Iran and the top UN Security Council powers: the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, and China, plus Germany.

Iran has also been stonewalling on repeated attempts by the IAEA to expand its ongoing surveillance and inspections to include a suspect sprawling military facility in Parchin, outside Tehran.

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