Iran: US admits no nukes; Is the attack off??


Richard Moore


The US has known all along that Iran has no nuclear weapons program, 
just as it knew Saddam had no WMDs. Therefore, this 'news item' can 
only be interpreted as a PR / propaganda move, and the relevant 
questions are then 'Why?' & 'Why now?'.

Thus, this may be a very significant announcement indeed. It seems to 
imply that a decision has been made not to invade Iran -- as this 
'revelation' removes the primary rationale. And if the attack is off, 
this is the kind of propaganda back-pedaling that will be required so 
that Bush can save face.

can one hope?

Original source URL:

December 3, 2007

U.S. Says Iran Ended Atomic Arms Work

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3 - A new assessment by American intelligence 
agencies concludes that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 
2003 and that the program remains frozen, contradicting judgment two 
years ago that Tehran was working relentlessly toward building a 
nuclear bomb.

The conclusions of the new assessment are likely to reshape the final 
year of the Bush administration, which has made halting Iran's 
nuclear program a cornerstone of its foreign policy.

The assessment, a National Intelligence Estimate that represents the 
consensus view of all 16 American spy agencies, states that Tehran is 
likely keeping its options open with respect to building a weapon, 
but that intelligence agencies "do not know whether it currently 
intends to develop nuclear weapons."

Iran is continuing to produce enriched uranium, a program that the 
Tehran government has said is designed for civilian purposes. The new 
estimate says that enrichment program could still provide Iran with 
enough raw material to produce a nuclear weapon sometime by the 
middle of next decade, a timetable essentially unchanged from 
previous estimates.

But the new estimate declares with "high confidence" that a 
military-run Iranian program intended to transform that raw material 
into a nuclear weapon has been shut down since 2003, and also says 
with high confidence that the halt "was directed primarily in 
response to increasing international scrutiny and pressure."

The estimate does not say when American intelligence agencies learned 
that the weapons program had been halted, but a statement issued by 
Donald Kerr, the principal director of national intelligence, said 
the document was being made public "since our understanding of Iran's 
capabilities has changed."

Rather than painting Iran as a rogue, irrational nation determined to 
join the club of nations with the bomb, the estimate states 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." The administration called new attention to the threat posed 
by Iran earlier this year when President Bush had suggested in 
October that a nuclear-armed Iran could lead to "World War III" and 
Vice President Dick Cheney promised "serious consequences" if the 
government in Tehran did not abandon its nuclear program.

Yet at the same time officials were airing these dire warnings about 
the Iranian threat, analysts at the Central Intelligence Agency were 
secretly concluding that Iran's nuclear weapons work halted years ago 
and that international pressure on the Islamic regime in Tehran was 

Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, portrayed the assessment as 
"directly challenging some of this administration's alarming rhetoric 
about the threat posed by Iran." He said he hoped the administration 
"appropriately adjusts its rhetoric and policy," and called for a "a 
diplomatic surge necessary to effectively address the challenges 
posed by Iran."

But 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.

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 - an 
estimate that led to congressional authorization for a military 
invasion of Iraq, although most of the report's conclusions turned 
out to be wrong.

Intelligence officials said that the specter of the botched 2002 
N.I.E. hung over their deliberations over the Iran assessment, 
leading them to treat the document with particular caution.

"We felt that we needed to scrub all the assessments and sources to 
make sure we weren't misleading ourselves," said one senior 
intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

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