September 17, 2008
Iran and North Korea both have the capability to produce nuclear weapons but al-Qaida is the CIA’s top nuclear concern because it is most likely to use them, agency director Michael Hayden said Tuesday.
“There is no greater national security threat facing the United States than al-Qaida and its associates,” Hayden said, according to a copy of his remarks prepared for the Los Angeles World Affairs Council.
With regard to North Korea, a known nuclear power, and Iran, Hayden said: “The question is not of capability, but intent.”
In 2006, North Korea conducted an underground nuclear test, removing any doubt it had the means to make a nuclear warhead.
Iran has not yet demonstrated a nuclear explosion, but Hayden said it has the scientific and industrial capacity to produce nuclear weapons “eventually.” It fuels suspicion by refusing to allow international inspectors into its nuclear facilities.
“Tehran at a minimum is keeping open its option to develop nuclear weapons,” Hayden said.