Strong opinions, weakly held

US government thinks Iran isn’t working on nuclear weapons

All of the big papers today report that the most recent National Intelligence Estimate says that Iran froze its nuclear weapons program in 2003. The assessment is the consensus view of 16 US intelligence agencies. I don’t think that the war party clamoring for an attack on Iran will be discouraged at all by this news.

Fred Kaplan says this means that the US is not going to war with Iran while President Bush is in office.

I’m not one to gloat, but a month ago I wrote this about what I’m looking for in our next President:

Someone who is willing to engage with Iran and is willing to seek a solution that serves both our national interest and theirs. I don’t believe we live in a world where everything good for Iran is bad for America and vice versa.

Here’s what the National Intelligence Estimate says:

This, in turn, suggests that some combination of threats of intensified international scrutiny and pressure, 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.


  1. 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?
  2. Why should we believe this report? Why should we not believe it? Is Iran still pursing nukes? Were they and did they stop? Or did they ever pursue them at all? We can’t confirm any of it with certainty.

    For me this just clouds the soup as much as ever. It is still an “estimate” just like the others. Perhaps we should do like our political leaders and cherry-pick the estimate which best suits our political arguments.

    War? Peace? Engagement? Isolation? Sanctions? Trade? Non-Threat? Who knows?

    I’ll sleep easier now…or maybe not.

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