Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Iran Not Pursuing Nukes; Bush and Cheney's Push for War is Over

U.S. Finds That Iran Halted Nuclear Arms Bid in 2003
A major U.S. intelligence review has concluded that Iran stopped work on a suspected nuclear weapons program more than four years ago, a stark reversal of previous intelligence assessments that Iran was actively moving toward a bomb.

The new findings, drawn from a consensus National Intelligence Estimate, reflected a surprising shift in the midst of the Bush administration's continuing political and diplomatic campaign to depict Tehran's nuclear development as a grave threat. The report was drafted after an extended internal debate over the reliability of communications intercepts of Iranian conversations this past summer that suggested the program had been suspended.

"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," a declassified summary of the new National Intelligence Estimate stated. Two years ago, the intelligence community said in contrast it had "high confidence that Iran currently is determined to have nuclear weapons."

The new estimate, prepared by the nation's 16 intelligence agencies, applied the same "high confidence" label to a judgment that suspected Iranian military efforts to build a nuclear weapon were suspended in 2003 and said with "moderate confidence" that it had remained inactive since then.

Even if Iran were to restart its program now, the country probably could not produce enough highly enriched uranium for a single weapon before the middle of the next decade, the assessment stated. It also expressed doubt about whether Iran "currently intends to develop nuclear weapons."


A Blow to Bush's Tehran Policy
President Bush got the world's attention this fall when he warned that a nuclear-armed Iran might lead to World War III. But his stark warning came at least a month or two after he had first been told about fresh indications that Iran had actually halted its nuclear weapons program.

The new intelligence report released yesterday not only undercut the administration's alarming rhetoric over Iran's nuclear ambitions but could also throttle Bush's effort to ratchet up international sanctions and take off the table the possibility of preemptive military action before the end of his presidency.


Yglesias:
Meanwhile, how outrageous is it that the best twelve months of alarmism from Bush & Cheney have come in the context of an environment where they've long had access to the intelligence community's assessment? Answer: Very outrageous.

28 comments:

CyberKitten said...

I'm waiting to see how the White House respond. They are (apparently) eager for war.... will they just back down or find some other excuse to attack Iran?

Being the cynic that I am I'm guessing the second option....

Or maybe they'll just fire someone in the CIA who has just trashed their hopes of yet another 'glorious' military adventure....

Independent Accountant said...

This is another sham CIA report. I think it was created to protect Iran. Does Iran have 2,926 operating centrifuges or doesn't it? I remember the CIA's assessments of Soviet military capabilities and the USSR's GDP and how wrong they were. This report is the latest CIA joke.

Independent Accountant said...

This report is the product of an Iranian "disinformation" campaign.

Jewish Atheist said...

IA:

How is it that you are more knowledgeable than the 16 intelligence agencies involved in the NIE? Or is that classified? :-)

Lawyer-Wearing-Yarmulka said...

I'm not going to dispute the report, as it's not like I've got inside information. But of course it must be mentioned that past reports have been wildly off base.

That being said, even if everything the NIE said is 100%, how is this comforting news? It confirms that Iran was working on nuclear weapons, but they've been on hold for the last few years. They could restart at any moment, and they continue to enrich uranium.

We all should be a lot more concerned about their capabilities, not their intentions. Intentions can change in a heartbeat.

Lawyer-Wearing-Yarmulka said...

And another question I got to ask. Since the left has so much faith in NIE reports, would they have been ok with Bush ordering airstrikes in response to the 2005 report which said that Iran was perusing nuclear weapons?

Jewish Atheist said...

LWY:

I'm not going to dispute the report, as it's not like I've got inside information. But of course it must be mentioned that past reports have been wildly off base.

Yes, but even if you accept that we have a right to bomb a country for being about to have nuclear weapons, which is itself debatable at best, we'd need a better argument than "well, the evidence against them building nukes could be wrong."

That being said, even if everything the NIE said is 100%, how is this comforting news?

"Even if Iran were to restart its program now, the country probably could not produce enough highly enriched uranium for a single weapon before the middle of the next decade, the assessment stated."

We all should be a lot more concerned about their capabilities, not their intentions. Intentions can change in a heartbeat.

We are. Or do you think we should bomb anyone that might have an intention of building a nuke?

And another question I got to ask. Since the left has so much faith in NIE reports, would they have been ok with Bush ordering airstrikes in response to the 2005 report which said that Iran was perusing nuclear weapons?

Who says the left has so much faith in NIE reports? The intelligence was wrong on Iraq, of course. The point here is that *even* the intelligence community is saying that Iran is not developing nukes.

Second, the fact that a country is building nukes is not sufficient cause for airstrikes, according to most on the left. I've personally said that I wouldn't be too unhappy if we or Israel managed to surgically take out a nuclear site, but I can't exactly defend that decision on a moral or legal basis.

Jewish Atheist said...

The point here is that *even* the intelligence community is saying that Iran is not developing nukes.

i.e. Even though the agencies surely knew that Bush and Cheney wanted them to say that Iran is building nukes, they said they aren't. That means something.

Lawyer-Wearing-Yarmulka said...

Yes, but even if you accept that we have a right to bomb a country for being about to have nuclear weapons, which is itself debatable at best, we'd need a better argument than "well, the evidence against them building nukes could be wrong."

The argument is that they're enriching uranium, at worst were building nuclear weapons and still have the ability, they've got an advanced ballistic missile program, they've vowed to wipe Israel off the map, and they're run by leaders who don't care about sacrificing their own people.

During the Iran-Iraq war, their method for clearing minefields was to march a brigade of children across it.

That's the argument.


"Even if Iran were to restart its program now, the country probably could not produce enough highly enriched uranium for a single weapon before the middle of the next decade, the assessment stated."


I'm not comforted by that. This may give Bush enough of an excuse not to attack. The next President could easily be left-wing Democrat who won't launch an attack, even with overwhelming evidence.

Second, the fact that a country is building nukes is not sufficient cause for airstrikes, according to most on the left. I've personally said that I wouldn't be too unhappy if we or Israel managed to surgically take out a nuclear site, but I can't exactly defend that decision on a moral or legal basis.

Seriously? Even with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, you can't defend Israel's attack on Osirak on legal or moral grounds? I sure as hell can.

Jewish Atheist said...

The same or similar could be said about China, Pakistan, Russia, and the U.S.

During the Iran-Iraq war, their method for clearing minefields was to march a brigade of children across it.

So we can bomb countries that have in the past committed atrocities? Who does that exempt?

I'm not comforted by that. This may give Bush enough of an excuse not to attack. The next President could easily be left-wing Democrat who won't launch an attack, even with overwhelming evidence.

So we should bomb now despite a lack of pressing need because later when there is a pressing need, our democratically-elected leader may not have the guts? That's pretty weak.

Seriously? Even with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, you can't defend Israel's attack on Osirak on legal or moral grounds? I sure as hell can.

The only argument that I can see is that they were in a state of de facto war so military targets were fair game. Of course, Iraq could have used the same reasoning to destroy Israeli military targets. Would you have defended that as well?

An Iranian nuke would be bad for us and bad for Israel. However, the danger is that they could use that as leverage to act with a freer hand in their region, not that they would actually nuke either country. Israel has second (and first) strike capability and could easily decimate Iran in a nuclear war.

Additionally, what's the long-term plan? Bomb every ten or twenty years, as necessary? Engage in larger and larger wars as countries pursuing nuclear weapons make it more and more difficult to disrupt the process by airstrikes alone? Almost immediately after a successful strike, we'd be right back where we are now, with a need for strong diplomacy and assured destruction.

Lawyer-Wearing-Yarmulka said...

So we can bomb countries that have in the past committed atrocities? Who does that exempt?

No, my point about marching children through minefields is that despite the fact that Israel may have second strike capabilities has no effect when you are willing to sacrifice your own children for a higher calling.

More comments tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Oh come on, JA, you have to give Bush some credit here.

It's interesting how the left spins this as a way of criticizing Bush. If the report is correct, and "high confidence" and "moderate confidence" can be relied on, then it's good news, so give credit where it's due -- to Bush. If the report is accurate, it means that Iran stopped in 2003, which is when Khaddafi stopped his program. The left is going to be hard pressed to argue that Bush didn't have anything to do with it.

Ichabod Chrain

JDHURF said...

independent accountant's response was good for a laugh.

What is truly frightening about this is that Bush has essentially dismissed the report.
The New York Times reported:

"The world needed to view the report as 'a warning signal,' not grounds for reassurance, he [Bush] said, and the United States would not renounce the option of a military response.

'I have said Iran is dangerous,' Bush said a day after the release of the National Intelligence Estimate, representing the consensus of all 16 American spy agencies, 'and the N.I.E. doesn’t do anything to change my opinion about the danger Iran poses to the world—quite the contrary.'"


Rightly horrifying. Not only does the report not alter Bush's war aims, apparently the report has strengthened them.

JDHURF said...

LWY said to JA:
"Even with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, you can't defend Israel's attack on Osirak on legal or moral grounds? I sure as hell can."

What legal and moral grounds would those be?

In any case, as it turns out, Israel's bombing of Osirak had negative consequences.


The attack apparently stimulated and may have initiated the Iraqi nuclear weapons development program. Iraq had been engaged in constructing a nuclear plant, but no one knew what it was. After the bombing the head of the Harvard physics department, Richard Wilson, a well-known nuclear physicist from Harvard, investigated it on the ground. His analysis was published in the scientific journal Nature. His conclusion was that Osirak was a power plant.

In fact, in response an article by James Fallow in The Atlantic one can read the following letter:
”The Osirak reactor that was bombed by Israel in June of 1981 was explicitly designed by the French engineer Yves Girard to be unsuitable for making bombs. That was obvious to me on my 1982 visit. Many physicists and nuclear engineers have agreed. Much evidence suggests that the bombing did not delay the Iraqi nuclear-weapons program but started it. For example, the principal Iraqi scientist, Jafar Dhia Jafar, was asked by Saddam Hussein to work on the bomb only in July of 1981.”
Richard Wilson
Mallinckrodt Research Professor of Physics
Harvard University
Cambridge, Mass.


Another letter in response to the article, this one from Dan Reiter, points out that “The attack appears to have heightened Saddam's interest in acquiring nuclear weapons. After the attack Saddam started an underground nuclear-weapons program, unbeknownst to the international community and hence free from the fetters of IAEA inspection.”


http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/prem/200503/letters

CyberKitten said...

Just thought I'd drop by and say that I'm mostly in agreement with you JA. Well argued.

Any attack on Iran for what they've done in the past or what they might be thinking about in the future is stupid and dangerous for the whole region. Even if an attack on their nuclear facility was 100% effective (which is *very* doubtful) the consequences would be unknown at best. It certainly wouldn't stop them attempting to build a bomb with even better defences.

Or maybe the subtle plan is to bankrupt Iran by forcing it to spend a significant percentage of its GDP on defence? That policy worked on the USSR..... [grin]

Scott said...

Yet another issue where Ron Paul has been right about foreign policy and the Neo-Cons have been wrong. Who's the crazy one again?

Anonymous said...

Jdhurf, of course Iran is a danger. They're funding Hezbollah, and supporting the terrorists in Iraq. There was plenty in the report to warrant concern over Iran.

But what's interesting is that the Israelis aren't buying the NIE report, and the WSJ is telling us that the main authors of the report have their own agendas.

Ichabod Chrain

JDHURF said...

anonymous (Ichabod Chrain) said:
Jdhurf, of course Iran is a danger. They're funding Hezbollah, and supporting the terrorists in Iraq. There was plenty in the report to warrant concern over Iran.

Iran does not pose a going threat to the United States or even Israel for that matter, despite the mad ravings of Ahmadinejad. Ayatollah Khamenei is the Supreme Ruler of Iran and he has made it clear he wants to resolve issues diplomatically, but, a few countries, we all know which ones, have unilaterally rejected diplomatic negotiations.
There are known sufficient means to deal with corrupt and crazed regimes such as the one in Iran. That is, support internal democratic and social movements, which are now being repressed because that is the common reaction of a state power being threatened, immediately repress internal opposition. So, America’s aggressive posturing and saber rattling is making life worse for Iranian dissidents and social activists.

As far as Iran “supporting the terrorists in Iraq,” what say you of the United States and Israel supporting terrorists in Iran? Which they do. Or what about the United States supporting a military dictator, the Shah, right until he was overthrown by the Iranian people? Or, even further, what about the United States support for Saddam Hussein as he invaded Iran and killed hundreds of thousands? What of the United States illegal, unjust and immoral invasion of Iraq and the continued occupation? This is all irrelevant to you? Get serious.

But what's interesting is that the Israelis aren't buying the NIE report, and the WSJ is telling us that the main authors of the report have their own agendas.

Of course the “’Israelis’ aren’t buying” the report, that is to be taken as a matter of course. Israel follows Washington’s lead almost reflexively. Bush rejects the report, Olmert rejects the report, which, by the way, does not mean that the “Israelis” reject the report. The Israeli population, the majority of Israeli people, are not to be confused with the Israeli government.

Scott said...

As far as Iran “supporting the terrorists in Iraq,” what say you of the United States and Israel supporting terrorists in Iran? Which they do. Or what about the United States supporting a military dictator, the Shah, right until he was overthrown by the Iranian people? Or, even further, what about the United States support for Saddam Hussein as he invaded Iran and killed hundreds of thousands? What of the United States illegal, unjust and immoral invasion of Iraq and the continued occupation?

Oh come on jdhurf, didn't you know history started on September 11th, 2001? We're the "good" guys, they're the "bad" guys and that's just the way it is.

Holy Hyrax said...

I am suprised that Jdhurf can say that Iran does not pose a threat to Israel. Where do you get this from? Have we forgotten last Lebanon war where all the support came from? Are we SERIOUSLY waiting for a nuke to go off BEFORE we come to some sort of sence that Iran IS a threat? Or, perhaps there will still be debate. Claims like this are really, really scary.

>Or what about the United States supporting a military dictator, the Shah, right until he was overthrown by the Iranian people? Or, even further, what about the United States support for Saddam Hussein as he invaded Iran and killed hundreds of thousands?

Ofcourse its relevant. But in a time when sides are to be taken, I think the US had to go with the less of two evils.

Scott

I would like you to elaborate on the we are the "good" guys and they are the "bad" guys.

Holy Hyrax said...

Also, an interesting question is WHY did they halt it in 2003

Anonymous said...

"Iran does not pose a going threat to the United States or even Israel for that matter, despite the mad ravings of Ahmadinejad. Ayatollah Khamenei is the Supreme Ruler of Iran and he has made it clear he wants to resolve issues diplomatically, but, a few countries, we all know which ones, have unilaterally rejected diplomatic negotiations."

Yes it does pose a threat. Ahmadinejad gets his marching orders from the Mullahs. If he steps out of line, he stops being President and starts working the night shift in the janitorial dept at Teheran University. If he's lucky that is.

Of course the Iranians want to resolve the issues diplomatically. Why fight if you can get the other side to surrender at the bargaining table?

"That is, support internal democratic and social movements, which are now being repressed because that is the common reaction of a state power being threatened, immediately repress internal opposition."

The repression is inherent in their form of government.

"As far as Iran “supporting the terrorists in Iraq,” what say you of the United States and Israel supporting terrorists in Iran? Which they do"

I never said they support the terrorists in Iran. They're taking steps against the terrorists in Iran.

"Or what about the United States supporting a military dictator, the Shah, right until he was overthrown by the Iranian people? Or, even further, what about the United States support for Saddam Hussein as he invaded Iran and killed hundreds of thousand."

I'm not sure what the "what about" refers to, but the thread is about George W.Bush. The Shah was long gone before he took office. The Iran-Iraq war was also over for some time.

"What of the United States illegal, unjust and immoral invasion of Iraq and the continued occupation?"

Whatever could you possibly be talking about? There's no illegal, unjust, and immoral invasion of Iraq.

"This is all irrelevant to you?"

It's irrelevant to JA's post.

"Of course the “’Israelis’ aren’t buying” the report, that is to be taken as a matter of course. Israel follows Washington’s lead almost reflexively. Bush rejects the report, Olmert rejects the report, which, by the way, does not mean that the “Israelis” reject the report."

Oh good heavens. Ever hear of the Mossad?

Ichabod Chrain

JDHURF said...

holy hyrax said:
Have we forgotten last Lebanon war where all the support came from?

Have you forgotten that Israel initiated the war by illegally invading Lebanon, destroying the social infrastructure and killing scores of innocent civilians?

Are we SERIOUSLY waiting for a nuke to go off BEFORE we come to some sort of sence that Iran IS a threat? Or, perhaps there will still be debate. Claims like this are really, really scary.

This thread began by pointing out that Iran abandoned its nuclear aims in 2003.


anonymous (Ichabod Chrain) said:
Yes it [Iran] does pose a threat. Ahmadinejad gets his marching orders from the Mullahs. If he steps out of line, he stops being President and starts working the night shift in the janitorial dept at Teheran University. If he's lucky that is.

Incorrect. Ahmadinejad takes orders from the Supreme Ruler of Iran, Ayatollah Khomenei, who, as I pointed out, supports diplomatic negotiations.

Of course the Iranians want to resolve the issues diplomatically. Why fight if you can get the other side to surrender at the bargaining table?

So, for the record, you reject diplomatic negotiating? Furthermore, it appears you don’t even understand the elementary basis of negotiating, which consists of reaching a roughly equal and agreeable consensus, armistice, not the total surrender of the other side. You don’t even know what diplomatic negotiation consists of.

The repression is inherent in their form of government.

I agree, I have written about the topic. Furthermore, as I pointed out, the repression is now getting far worse, this being the direct result and most likely the desired result of the United States threatening Iran.

I never said they support the terrorists in Iran. They're taking steps against the terrorists in Iran.

You must be confused. I didn’t claim that you said anything. I was asking you what you thought of the United States and Israel supporting terrorists in Iran, which they do.

I'm not sure what the "what about" refers to, but the thread is about George W.Bush. The Shah was long gone before he took office. The Iran-Iraq war was also over for some time.

First of all, many of the principles are in the Bush administration. Second of all, it is clearly relevant to review the historic relations

"What of the United States illegal, unjust and immoral invasion of Iraq and the continued occupation?"

Whatever could you possibly be talking about? There's no illegal, unjust, and immoral invasion of Iraq.

The invasion of Iraq by the United States was an act of aggression, defined by the Nuremburg tribunal as the highest international crime, incorporating within it, all the evil which follows.

It's irrelevant to JA's post.

Sorry, events do not occur within a vacuum.

Holy Hyrax said...

>Have you forgotten that Israel initiated the war by illegally invading Lebanon, destroying the social infrastructure and killing scores of innocent civilians?

And have YOU forgotten that hezbollah was fired thousands of missles at israeli towns? My god man, you are scaring the shit out of me.

Lets try this.

The united States illegally invaded Germany, destroying the social infrastructure and killing scores of innocent civilians.

Ya, I guess that works to.

>This thread began by pointing out that Iran abandoned its nuclear aims in 2003.

Duh. But all that means is that they WERE planning on it. So my question stands, do we wait for them to start it up again?

And ofcourse, this is all ridiculous when you read the quote from the report:

Even if Iran were to restart its program now, the country probably could not produce enough highly enriched uranium

LOL, all of a sudden, you are treating the intelligence reports as word of God. The same intelligence community that said there were nukes in Iraq.

Holy Hyrax said...

>illegally invading Lebanon

BTW- how does a country illegally invade another country when IT is being attacked? Its just mind boggling

Anonymous said...

According to this England, France and Germany aren't buying the NIE report either.

http://strata-sphere.com/blog/index.php/archives/4765

Ichabod Chrain

CyberKitten said...

Ichabod Chrain said: According to this England, France and Germany aren't buying the NIE report either.

That's hardly surprising as the PtB *want* to attack Iran. A little something like a report telling them there's no need will hardly deflect them.

Though I guess that the Intelligence Community will have clean(er) hands this time...

Half Sigma said...

Iran is pursuing ghetto nukes. If you put enough highly enriched uranium together (a "critical mass"), it creates a nuclear explosion. Not much advanced research is needed.