The New, Suddenly Correct, NIE on Iran

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Deja vu?  Remember a few weeks ago when that McClellan story came out in which he supposedly said he was lied to about the Plame affair?  I wrote then:

Isn’t it curious how the left constantly wailed about Scott McClellan
allegedly lying during his press conferences, but now that he is saying
something that smells like trash talk about Bush, he is suddenly a
truth teller.

And now when a new NIE is released to the public saying that Iran has stopped its nuclear weapons program, NOW the left believes our intelligence agencies. 

For the last year the left has been all over the intelligence, saying that its all drummed up to let Bush go to war against another country.  Not anymore, now our NIE’s are the whole truth and nothing but the truth:

Let’s not lose sight of the context of this news. The President has, on more than one recent occasion, talked about “World War III” with Iran. The Vice President has been dusting off his 2002 speeches, blustering that the U.S. “cannot stand by as a terror-supporting state fulfills its grandest ambitions.” The man responsible for shaping Rudy Giuliani’s foreign policy vision believes anyone opposed to immediate miltary strikes in Iran are guilty of “an irresponsible complacency that I think is comparable to the denial in the early ’30s of the intentions of Hitler.”

But, once again, they’re all wrong.

Funny huh?

Here is the news:

The assessment, a National Intelligence Estimate that represents the
consensus view of all 16 American spy agencies, states that Tehran’s
ultimate intentions about gaining a nuclear weapon remain unclear
, but
that Iran’s “decisions are guided by a cost-benefit approach rather
than a rush to a weapon irrespective of the political, economic and
military costs.”

“Some combination of threats of intensified
international scrutiny and pressures, along with opportunities for Iran
to achieve its security, prestige, and goals for regional influence in
other ways might — if perceived by Iran’s leaders as credible — prompt
Tehran to extend the current halt to its nuclear weapons program,” the
estimate states.

The new report comes out just over five years
after a deeply flawed N.I.E. concluded that Iraq possessed chemical and
biological weapons programs and was determined to restart its nuclear
program. The report led to congressional authorization for a military
invasion of Iraq, although most of the N.I.E.’s conclusions turned out
to be wrong. The estimate does say that Iran’s ultimate goal is still
to develop nuclear weapons.

And their findings:

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 nuclear weapons.
  • 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 previously.

So let me get this straight.  Our intelligence agencies screwed the pooch on Iraq five years ago.  Three years later they issue a report stating that Iran is well on its way to a nuke.  Now today they are telling us to forget what they said earlier, they were wrong.  But now they’re right.

I don’t know about you but this tells me our intelligence is as screwed up as it has been.  Stephen Hadley:

The national security adviser, Stephen J.
Hadley, quickly issued a statement describing the N.I.E. as containing
positive news rather than reflecting intelligence mistakes. “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.

But wait.  How does this jive?  Supposedly Iran stopped its program in 2003 when there was no threats of force being made nor were there any diplomatic conversations going on.  They supposedly stopped it all because it was too expensive?

Come on…..

Then there is the IAEA:

Last month, Mohamed ElBaradei, director general
of the international Atomic Energy Agency, had reported that Iran was
operating 3,000 uranium-enriching centrifuges, capable of producing
fissile material for nuclear weapons.


But his report said that
I.A.E.A. inspectors in Iran had been unable to determine whether the
Iranian program sought only to generate electricity or also to build
weapons.

Ok, so they are still producing fuel.  AJStrata:

They don’t NEED to process fuel for Nuclear
Energy. Russia has offered to SELL THEM fuel if they return the spent
fuel so it cannot be used to make weapons. Note this when reading this
next finding:

C. We assess centrifuge enrichment is how Iran probably could first
produce enough fissile material for a weapon, if it decides to do so.
Iran resumed its declared centrifuge enrichment activities in January
2006, despite the continued halt in the nuclear weapons program. Iran
made significant progress in 2007 installing centrifuges at Natanz, but
we judge with moderate confidence it still faces significant technical
problems operating them.

I’m not buying it and Cliff May gives me even more reason not to buy it:

A friend, formerly at the CIA, tells me that while this NIE does
confirm Iran was pursuing nuclear weapons in 2002 and 2003, its
conclusions that as to why it may have stopped the program and why this
halt may have continued are debateable and speculation.  These KJs [Key
Judgments] have too much political spin. This assessment was strongly
influenced by two hyper-partisan anti-Bush officials who oversaw it,
both former State officials who fought tooth and nail against Bush WMD
policies, especially Iran.

Surprise surprise.  VIPS at work once again?  It smells like more leaks by the VIPS types ala Plame and friends, trying to influence either the tactics used by this Administrations to stop Iran from getting a nuke, or to influence the upcoming elections.  Even the NYT’s notices:

they [the conclusions] come in the middle of a presidential campaign during which a possible military strike against Iran’s nuclear program has been discussed.

This whole NIE smells to high heaven.

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Here is the take of VDH at NRO:

The latest news from Iran about the supposed abandonment in 2003 of the effort to produce a Bomb — if even remotely accurate — presents somewhat of a dilemma for liberal Democrats.

Are they now to suggest that Republicans have been warmongering over a nonexistent threat for partisan purposes? But to advance that belief is also to concede that, Iran, like Libya, likely came to a conjecture around (say early spring 2003?) that it was not wise for regimes to conceal WMD programs, given the unpredictable, but lethal American military reaction.

After all, what critic would wish now to grant that one result of the 2003 war – aside from the real chance that Iraq can stabilize and function under the only consensual government in the region – might have been the elimination for some time of two growing and potentially nuclear threats to American security, quite apart from Saddam Hussein?

War is unpredictable and instead of “no blood for oil” (oil went from $20 something to $90 something a barrel after the war, enriching Iraq and the Arab Gulf region at our expense), perhaps the cry, post facto, should have been “no blood for the elimination of nukes.”

In the meantime, expect a variety of rebuttals to this assurance that for 4 years the Iranians haven’t gotten much closer to producing weapons grade materials.

Considering the Left still does not even acknowledge that Libya surrendered its nuclear program in fear of American military success in Afghanistan and Iraq, I doubt they will come to this conclusion about Iran either.

Why should we believe that Iran EVER had a nuclear weapons program at all?

From IranAffairs.com:

Iran NIE report: Are you lying now, or were you lying then?

If the 2005 NIE report was wrong when it claimed with “high confidence” that Iran had a active nuclear weapons program, why should the 2007 NIE be any more credible when it claims that Iran had a nuclear weapons program until 2003? If Iran really had a nuclear weapons program until 2003 as the new report claims, then why has the IAEA found no evidence of it?

Curt,..this has nothing to do with Iran, but,…

As you may have heard, Mrs. Maureen Faulkner, widow of slain Philly PD officer Daniel Faulkner, is finally getting her chance to tell her side of the story on the Today Show this Thursday.

Unfortunately, the Mumia crowd is threatening to protest outside during her interview and are pressuring the Today show producers for “equal time!”

There have been several reports that either Mrs Faulkner will have to sit next to one of these losers, instead of by herself, for the interview, or possibly the Today show will interview one of them afterwards.

Either way, enough is enough! They’ve had their say for 25+ years now and need to STFU! Please write to the Today show at today@msnbc.com or please visit my blog for more details!

The Mumia crowd is trying to silence a woman who has held her silence for far too long!

Justice for Daniel Faulkner!

Thanks for the heads up Trek, was actually planning a post on her new book, didnt know about the today show gig. Will post on it.

I imagine that intelligence gathering is fluid and the consensus shifts as new information is made available. Since the NIE represents the aggregate of our intelligence, I suspect that most people accept that this is the best we’ve got and really have no choice but to hope that it’s accurate. Certainly, however, there are portions that are kept from the public, so the way I see it, the criticism might be directed at the decision on which information is declassified and when.

Hass,
“Why should we believe that Iran EVER had a nuclear weapons program at all?”

Oh, I dunno, maybe we should believe Iran has a nuclear program from the many speeches of its insane “President” speaks of destroying Israel and the United States with it (and anyone else who gets in the way) and that one does not need centrifuges and fuel production plants for the kind of reactors Iran will use (it’s cheaper to just buy the non-weapons grade fuel). One could also say that fact all of Iran’s nuclear “power” plants could shut down without turning one light off in Iran as none are hooked to the power grid? Also, the mixed statements from Iranian leaders and ministers on the nuclear program make many believe that Iran is perusing nuclear weapons as every other indicator shows Iran is preparing for war, and actively involved in destabilizing Iraq, and supporting international terrorists.

I trust strategic intel about as much as I trust a wino not to drink. There is simply too much political influence at the NIE level from unaccountable (mostly leftist) career bureaucrats in the system. As other authors point out, the CIA, DOS, and other departments have an agenda, and they are not in alignment with the controlling executive branch.

“Its cheaper to buy non-weapons grade fuel”

Yes, and it also means that your country would be reliant forever on the import of nuclear fuel. Would the US accept that? Why should Iran?

In fact Iran has no problems with importing fuel – it is importing all the fuel for its first reactor at Bushehr from Russia – but the Iranians are being told that they should give up enrichment altogether, and that they shouldn’t even have the knowledge of nuclear technology – and no country is going to do that.

Iran’s position is shared by most of the rest of the developing world:

“Some developing nations are skeptical of the intentions of the five original nuclear states and are reluctant to give up the option of enriching uranium. Developing nations say they don’t want to give up their rights to uranium enrichment and don’t trust the United States or other nuclear countries to be consistent suppliers of the nuclear material they would need to run their power plants.”
(A New Global Nuclear Order, Alissa J. Rubin, Los Angeles Times, October 20th, 2006 )

You can apologize, obfuscate, and spread taqqyia all you want. Iran has stated again and again that it desires nuclear arms and will use them. They speak out of both sides of their mouth on this issue. Not only does Iran want nukes, but they are also building up their navy and airforce for one purpose: Control of the Arabian (Persian) Gulf. The other Gulf states see this and are countering Iran’s insanity the only way they can, by buying weapons themselves.

Iran has always been, and still remains, a hostile nation with aspirations of regional conquest (at minimum) who crushes all internal dissent by force.

But you are free to think they are clean as new fallen snow.

Sorry… bad spelling… it is ” Taqqiyah”.

maybe – just maybe Iran has had to stop because of cost or a technical hurdle – BUT it is probably a temporary halt – it may only be a matter of cash flow and thus they are taking the opportunity to wait out our upcoming presidential election – they clearly have a program and threaten destruction; so just because it is “stopped” doesn’t mean it is permanently so….

Thomnj,
The words you are looking for is “Stategic Pause”. Achmenejad has destroyed the Iranian economy and even plum oil exports to China cannot help him. Iran is out of money, temporarily. His people are growing more rebellious. His plans to stir up an Iraqi civil war failed. His military attacked the US Coalition forces and could only “win” when they surrounded a 15 man boat with 500 others in Iraqi waters. His airforce is a joke. His “superweapons” never pan out. His “elite” forces are being slughtered whenever they engage us in Iraq. And even the mullahs are wondering if they backed the wrong guy.

That said, this is still a pause. If the US and the world blinks or shrinks away, Iran will gleefully resume research and production of nuclear weapons.

Does anyone really think that Iran needs to develop a nuclear industry for electric generation?

Surely the Iranians know they have the second largest reserves of natural gas in the world?

http://www.eia.doe.gov/cabs/Iran/NaturalGas.html

And all they have to do to generate electricity is tap that supply and feed it into gas turbine generators. Much easier, cheaper and safer than nuclear power.

Many people are confused about exactly how powerful the office of President is in Iran.
He has NO military powers, it is more like the Presidency of Israel.
It seems that the reduction of WW III has disappointed many. As the Bush year winds down the Intelligence community is going to become increasingly more reluctant to base their reports on what an ever lamer duck President would like to hear. Most Americans are going to remember that the war mongering was unnecessary, yet some wished for another war.

Thus spake the reincarnation of Neville Chamberlain.

Thanks John Ryan!

India, Pakistan and North Korea all had to explose their bombs before the U.S. discovered those countries had nuclear weapons.

It’s probably not in their best interest to have nuclear weapons because the inside government stability isn’t there and it’s a culture that breeds suicide bombers (this time with an atomic weapon). They are probably imagining an Al Qaeda or other agent setting off the atomic bomb in Iran or a general decides to use the atomic weapons to stage a coup.

If it took 4 yrs for the spooks to learn Iran stopped a covert program they denied existed how long will it take for them to identify the restart of this program? And if this analysis if based on Aug 07 reporting by a “reliable” source does anybody wonder if CIA’s most important tea-sipper has been travelling again now that he and his wife have retired to New Mexico?

Perhaps the Iranian Foreign Minister and his President should get their story straight. Ahmadinejad has been relentless in hinting at the capabilities of Iran’s nuclear program. Once again, they show themselves to be complete buffoons.

By the way, when is the World Court going to try Ahmadinejad and his compatriots for their kidnapping and holding of American hostages in 1979?

If they’re stilling running their centrifuges, they haven’t stopped their program in any meaningful sense of the word. Producing the fissile material is the most critical and costly part of a nuclear weapon. Even if all other parts of a weapons program were on hold, continuing enrichment activities would still be putting them day by day closer to possession of a nuclear weapon (once you have enough weapons-grade U-235, the rest is almost an afterthought). And anyway, the uranium enrichment stuff is big and hard to hide; the other activities involved in making a Hiroshima-type bomb are largely things you could do in a medium-sized machine shop and therefore basically unverifiable.

bbartlog,

Good points. There is more about WHO wrote the NIE and why the NIE and the whole intelligence headquarters is suspect.

The fact the writers of the NIE are leftist partisan hacks openly hostile to US policy and friendly to those allied against the West should sent a collossal shiver through the Free World.

It will not, however, because Brittiny is pregnant again and that will make “in depth coverage” news…..

To some extent, I think the NIE report is outstanding news.
Because as of now, there isn’t any excuse to create another decade long, dog and pony show of Weapons Inspectors as we had in Iraq.

Remember these guys? The same bunch who were kicked out of Iraq, kicking and screaming Hussein was hiding material and programs, yet when finally allowed back in after four years claim “WE THINK everything is gone but we need more time. So let’s get the contracts and paperwork signed. We’ll get back to work.”

Sure guys. We’ll get those payroll checks rolling again. Just be sure to leave good notes to everyone for after you retire ON OUR DIME in ANOTHER TEN YEARS.

So now, if we should have to take out Iran, say when the Iranians tell the Russians to pack sand when they request the used Uranium back, or better still, an actual nuke test or even a launch against Europe, there won’t be a need to waste a year telegraphing our punch to the enemy by jerking around with the UN. We were told no weapons. So who is lying? Iran or the UN?

Moreover, if an actual launch were to occur against Europe, why is it even our problem at that point? Europe doesn’t want to see things for what they are and listen to us now. Since we will very likely be blamed for not stopping it anyhow, will there be any real sense of need to go to the aid of these ankle-biters?