COMMENTS: Nuclear Spies

CBS led with a pair of reports on Iran's nuclear program. David Martin claimed an Exclusive for the scoop he obtained from unidentified spies that Teheran's scientists had solved a technical problem in centrifuge technology so that enough uranium can be enriched to manufacture a nuclear bomb by 2010, instead of the 2015 date that is the official estimate of the United States.

Martin reflected that this timeline narrows any window for the Israel Defense Force to launch a pre-emptive airstrike on Iran. If Israel attacks Iran, using US-supplied warplanes, it will be interpreted by Iran as an attack by the United States itself, former CIA spy Bruce Riedel told Martin. An Israeli attack "could involve the US in a war against a much tougher opponent than Iraq."

To round out Martin's report, CBS sent a skeptical Elizabeth Palmer to Teheran. There may be fewer centrifuges in operation to enrich uranium than Iranian officials boast or US spies fear: Iran hints at 3,000 working machines; IAEA inspectors find only 1,300, "and only a few had uranium gas in them." The fuel may still be used for generating electricity or for producing medical isotopes instead of making bombs. "Few world leaders are convinced and for the moment there is no surefire way of checking until, perhaps, it is too late."


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