US intelligence analysts continue to believe there is no hard evidence that Iran has decided to build a nuclear bomb, The New York Times reported Saturday.
Citing unnamed US officials, the newspaper said the latest assessments by US spy agencies are broadly consistent with a 2007 intelligence finding that concluded that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons programme.
The officials said that assessment was largely reaffirmed in a 2010 National Intelligence Estimate, and that it remains the consensus view of America's 16 intelligence agencies, the report said.
The report came after the International Atomic Energy Agency warned that it continued to have "serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear programme."
The Times said there was no dispute among American, Israeli and European intelligence officials that Iran had been enriching nuclear fuel and developing some necessary infrastructure to become a nuclear power.
But the Central Intelligence Agency and other intelligence agencies believe that Iran has yet to decide whether to resume a parallel programme to design a nuclear warhead -- a programme they believe was essentially halted in 2003, the paper noted.
Intelligence officials and outside analysts believe there is another possible explanation for Iran's enrichment activity, the report said.
They say that Iran could be seeking to enhance its influence in the region by creating what some analysts call "strategic ambiguity," the paper noted.
Rather than building a bomb now, Iran may want to increase its power by sowing doubt among other nations about its nuclear ambitions, The Times said.
Some point to the examples of Pakistan and India, both of which had clandestine nuclear weapons programs for decades before they actually decided to build bombs and test their weapons in 1998, the paper noted.