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The new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) says Iran stopped working on it's nuclear weapons program in 2003, which has Democrats in Congress grinning from ear to ear, and Republicans in Congress scratching their heads. The Democrats are grinning, not because no active Iranian nuclear program is good news (though it certainly is, if true), but because they believe it gives them some ammunition in the Democrat's war against the real enemy, George W. Bush and his merry band of neocons. Republicans are scratching their heads, because the 2007 version of the NIE is a direct contradiction to the 2005 version of the NIE, which indicated that Iran was actively pursuing nuclear weapons. The 2007 version is also a contradiction to the 2002 NIE on Iran. From all I've read on this subject recently, it appears nobody in our media has noticed that if the Iranians STOPPED working on nuclear weapons in 2003, then they had to be working ON developing nukes up until that time, which gives the lie to the Iranian claim that they never intended to build nuclear weapons. Iran was lying to the world. The new NIE cites "international pressure" as the reason Iran stopped it's nuclear program in 2003. Let me see now, if what the NIE says is true, who was applying the most international pressure on Iran in 2003 and forward ?....Hmmm....Oh yeah, it was GEORGE W. BUSH and his merry band of neocons, who coincidentally happened to have america's military right next door in Iraq, and were telling Iran to stop it's nuclear weapons program or else. It was either THAT international pressure, or the UN having a meeting and issuing a statement that deterred Iran. You decide.
Wasting no time in attempting to take political advantage of this new development, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid characterized the NIE as “directly challenging some of this administration’s alarming rhetoric about the threat posed by Iran.” Reid also said he hoped the administration “appropriately adjusts its rhetoric and policy” (No word on whether Harry Reid will adjust his own "the war is lost" rhetoric and policy regarding Iraq in light of the recent success there). This is so typical of the Harry Reids of the world. When the tough talk and firm stance against Iran appears to have worked, they criticize the tough talk and firm stance, and then recommend that the policy goes back to the former weak one that didn't work at all. Brilliant, Harry, just brilliant. If I thought for a second that Reid believed his own words (I don't), I'd think the guy was just dumb, but he isn't, he's a calculating partisan animal. Reid's not dumb, he's just full of it.
National security advisor Stephen Hadley puts the news in a more realistic light:
“It confirms that we were right to be worried about Iran seeking to develop nuclear weapons,” Mr. Hadley said. “It tells us that we have made progress in trying to ensure that this does not happen. But the intelligence also tells us that the risk of Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon remains a very serious problem.”
“The estimate offers grounds for hope that the problem can be solved diplomatically — without the use of force — as the administration has been trying to do,” Mr. Hadley said.
Here are the key judgements of the 2007 NIE on Iran, which can be linked to here:
• We assess with high confidence that until fall 2003, Iranian military entities were
working under government direction to develop nuclear weapons.
• We judge with high confidence that the halt lasted at least several years. (Because of
intelligence gaps discussed elsewhere in this Estimate, however, DOE and the NIC
assess with only moderate confidence that the halt to those activities represents a halt
to Iran's entire nuclear weapons program.)
• We assess with moderate confidence Tehran had not restarted its nuclear weapons
program as of mid-2007, but we do not know whether it currently intends to develop
• We continue to assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Iran does not currently
have a nuclear weapon.
• Tehran’s decision to halt its nuclear weapons program suggests it is less determined
to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005. Our assessment
that the program probably was halted primarily in response to international pressure
suggests Iran may be more vulnerable to influence on the issue than we judged