I’ve already seen the articles and blog postings about how the latest National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran shows that Iran isn’t currently a nuclear threat. I think the full gambit can be found at DailyKos. Everything from CIA conspiracy to President Bush already knew. Well I pray to God that our President knows more about our defense than he is willing to tell the citizenry. Because if we knew all there was, so would our enemies.
There is also the perspective that the report diminished President Bush’s credibility. Again, because he has been pushing for sanctions and possible military actions against Iran to curb their nuclear ambitions, while at the same time we now find that they haven’t had a nuclear weapons program in years.
The report also means that a host of international actors who are not necessarily friendly to America—from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Russia’s Vladimir Putin to Mohamed ElBaradei, the controversial head of the International Atomic Energy Agency—come out looking like winners. America’s reputation in the world is the biggest loser.
The second, and less noted, effect of the new NIE is that the already tattered credibility of this administration over its assessment of dangers abroad is now shredded—simply gone with the wind. Whether Bush’s earlier assertions about Iran’s nuclear program were based on hype or bad information doesn’t really matter; all that matters is that Washington has once again demonstrated to the world that it doesn’t have the evidence it said it did.
Newsweek: Forget War With Iran –
Well that’s the type of stuff coming from the news media and blogs. Naturally both nation’s leaders also had something to say in response to the report. And it wasn’t surprising that the news media and Tehran saw eye to eye on the issue.
TEHRAN, Iran – A new U.S. intelligence review concluding Iran stopped developing an atomic weapons program in 2003 is a “declaration of victory” for Iran’s nuclear program, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Wednesday.
AP: Ahmadinejad: Report a victory for Iran
But here is a little more objective look at the issue from our President Bush:
“I believed before the NIE that Iran was dangerous, and I believe after the NIE that Iran is dangerous,” Bush told reporters at a White House press conference. “And I believe now is the time for the world to do the hard work necessary to convince the Iranians there is a better way forward.”
Jerusalem Post: Bush: Report on Iran a ‘warning signal’
I say score another one for President Bush. He deserve a big round of applause for what this report has told us all. It is now crystal clear to the world that Iran had a nuclear weapons program prior to late 2003. But what happened to it? Did President Ahmadinejad have a radical change of heart and no longer wanted to wipe certain nations off the map? That wouldn’t be my guess.
Here is my theory about what happened to Iran’s nuke program. What happened was that in early 2003 the US in coalition with other UN nations, invaded Iran’s neighbors to root out the status of their WMD programs and to oust their brutal leader from power. By mid 2003 most major military actions had ceased and President Bush drew a War on Terror line in the sand for both Syria and Iran. Also in late 2003, Saddam was caught and was in jail, most likely facing execution.
CRAWFORD, Tex., — President Bush warned Syria and Iran today that they “will be held accountable” if they fail to cooperate more with the administration’s campaign against terrorism in the Middle East.
Bush has been persistently critical of Iran, encouraging dissent against the clerics who control the government and insisting that Tehran give up efforts to acquire a nuclear weapon.
Washington Post: Monday, July 21, 2003; 4:27 PM
President Ahmadinejad didn’t voluntarily shelve his Nuke program. No, no, no. He shelved it out of fear that if he didn’t, the US military was going to shelve it for him and quite probably he would lose his job and/or his life in the process.
So I give credit directly to President Bush for disarming Iran as a nuclear threat. I give credit directly to President Bush for continuing to pressure Iran not to consider restarting their program.
I hope we will also be able to give credit to the next administration for keeping Iran free from nuclear arms. I hope they follow this advice from the White House.
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. And it suggests that the President has the right strategy: intensified international pressure along with a willingness to negotiate a solution that serves Iranian interests while ensuring that the world will never have to face a nuclear armed Iran. The bottom line is this: for that strategy to succeed, the international community has to turn up the pressure on Iran – with diplomatic isolation, United Nations sanctions, and with other financial pressure – and Iran has to decide it wants to negotiate a solution.
White House: Statement by National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley
And heed this warning from the National Intelligence Council who wrote the NIE on Iran.
We assess with moderate confidence that convincing the Iranian leadership to forgo the eventual development of nuclear weapons will be difficult given the linkage many within the leadership probably see between nuclear weapons development and Iran’s
key national security and foreign policy objectives, and given Iran’s considerable effort from at least the late 1980s to 2003 to develop such weapons.
National Intelligence Estimate on Iran