Despite the increasingly dire warnings about an imminent US showdown with Iran (and vice versa), Iran “has not made the decision to go ahead with a nuclear weapon,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the Senate Intelligence Committee in unveiling the assessment.
“Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons,” the assessment notes. “We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.”
The leadership in Iran is also realistic in its assessment about how risky moves like closing down the Strait of Hormuz – and the all-but-guaranteed US response – would affect their ability to retain power, according to intelligence officials.
“We judge Iran’s nuclear decision-making is guided by a cost-benefit approach, which offers the international community opportunities to influence Tehran,” according to the assessment. “Iranian leaders undoubtedly consider Iran’s security, prestige, and influence when making decisions about its nuclear program.”