Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak says Israel's assessment is that Iran did stop work on its nuclear bomb in 2003, just as the United States announced - but that it resumed its efforts sometime afterwards.

Barak, a former Israeli Prime Minister, says the U.S. intelligence assessment that Iran has stopped work on its nuclear program is not shared by Israel. "Iran did stop its nuclear program for a time in 2003," Barak told Army Radio on Tuesday morning, "but in our assessment, it resumed its work at a certain point."  He would not state when that occurred.

Barak said that intelligence assessments "are, by definition, not absolute.  The U.S. assessment does not jibe with ours.  When I was in Annapolis, and in a previous visit a month before, I met with all the senior Administration officials, and with European intelligence officials, and we discussed this issue. There are various assessments of Iran's nuclear progress, it continues to be in the center of all our discussions, and time will tell which appraisal is correct.  Iran's nuclear plans continue to be a serious threat upon both Israel and the entire world."

It was reported Monday that the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate had concluded that Iran halted its nuclear program in 2003. The report stated that Iran continues to enrich uranium, ostensibly for peaceful uses. It is assumed that the report will weaken support for tougher sanctions against Iran both in the U.S. and internationally.

Asked about this prospect, Barak said, "Yes, it might [weaken the hardliners], but it's not our job to worry about that. We have a lot to do regarding Iran, but talking is not one of them; words do not stop missiles. We cannot allow ourselves to remain quiet based on an appraisal of our good friend across the ocean."