"We don't believe they've actually made the decision to go ahead with a nuclear weapon."
Before the hearing, as James Fallows of The Atlantic reports, Clapper released his "Worldwide Threat Assessment." It read, "We do not know ... if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons."
Clapper thus reaffirmed the assessment of 16 U.S. intelligence agencies in 2007, reportedly repeated in 2011, that the U.S. does not believe that Iran has decided to become a nuclear weapons state.
In December, when Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that if Iran went all out, it might be able to build a nuclear weapon in a year, Pentagon spokesman George Little hastily clarified his comments:
"The secretary was clear that we have no indication that the Iranians have made a decision to develop a nuclear weapon."
On Jan. 8, Panetta himself told CBS:
"(Is Iran) trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No. But we know that they're trying to develop a nuclear capability. And that's what concerns us. And our redline to Iran is: Do not develop a nuclear weapon."
On Super Bowl Sunday, President Barack Obama told NBC's Matt Lauer that he hopes to solve the Iranian problem "diplomatically."
From the above, we may conclude that the administration does not believe that Iran has crossed any redline on the nuclear issue -- and President Obama does not want war with Iran.
Who, then, does want war? Ayatollah Ali Khamenei? Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?
From their actions, it would appear not. If Iran wanted war with the United States, any terror attack inside this country or on U.S. forces in Iraq or Afghanistan could bring that about in an afternoon.
Expulsion of the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors from the Natanz enrichment facility, covering up the IAEA cameras, breaking the seals on the low-enriched uranium stockpiled there, or removing the LEU would be a fire bell for the Pentagon.
But the IAEA inspectors and LEU are still there.
When the alleged plot by a used-car salesman in Texas to hire Mexican cartel criminals to blow up a D.C. restaurant and kill the Saudi ambassador was revealed, Iran denied it emphatically and demanded to interview the alleged mastermind.
Moreover, Tehran has yet to retaliate for the assassinations of five of its nuclear scientists and four terror attacks by Jundallah in Sistan-Baluchistan and PJAK, a Kurdish terrorist organization operating out of Iraqi Kurdistan. Iran has alleged Western and Israeli involvement in these attacks.