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The NIE Bombshell

In his post entitled Republicans Lied About Iran's Nuclear Program, my colleague Lee Ward explains how the recently released NIE proves that Bush and the Republicans have been lying like dogs to the American people about Iran's obstensible efforts to obtain nuclear weapons. The NIE is a devastating blow that has utterly destroyed whatever remaining credibility that Bush and the Republicans still retained after the miserable debacle in Iraq. It will take more than a couple posts to fully expose the despicable fear-mongering that the neocons and Republicans have engaged in on Iran. To start, I think it's instructive to look at some of what's actually in the NIE:

We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program; we also assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons. We judge with high confidence that the halt, and Tehran's announcement of its decision to suspend its declared uranium enrichment program and sign an Additional Protocol to its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Safeguards Agreement, was directed primarily in response to increasing international scrutiny and pressure resulting from exposure of Iran's previously undeclared nuclear work.

The NIE makes it pretty clear that the Iranians most likely halted their efforts to build a nuclear weapon in 2003 despite administration lies to the contrary. The NIE also states that Iran is "keeping open the option" to develop nuclear weapons in the future, but doesn't explain how the Iranians would prove that they have decided to foreclose this option.

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.

Put yourself in Iran's situation for a minute. They have the nuclear power Pakistan on their southeastern border. On their western border, they have Iraq which is occupied by two nuclear powers, the US and the UK. On their northeastern border, they have Afghanistan which is occupied by the US. They have nuclear-armed Israel about 1,000 miles away with the ability to strike them at any moment with land and submarine-based nuclear weapons. And they share the Caspian Sea with another nuclear power, Russia. Given these facts, any government of Iran, whether run by mullahs or elected democrats, would keep the option of developing nuclear weapons on the table. They would be crazy not to.

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.

Many of us have suggested all along that Iran is uniquely vulnerable to diplomatic pressure and the threat of sanctions due to their lack of a broad-based economy and inability to refine enough gasoline for their own needs. We have been consistently shouted down by those on the right hell-bent on their march for war.

We assess with moderate confidence that Iran probably would use covert facilities--rather than its declared nuclear sites--for the production of highly enriched uranium for a weapon. A growing amount of intelligence indicates Iran was engaged in covert uranium conversion and uranium enrichment activity, but we judge that these efforts probably were halted in response to the fall 2003 halt, and that these efforts probably had not been restarted through at least mid-2007.

Did you hear that one neocons? "Covert" facilities means facilities that are hidden and that you don't know about. This fact makes the neocon wet dream of launching airstrikes on Iran to decapitate their nuclear weapons "program" a completely moot point. You can't destroy a program (that doesn't exist anyway) whose facilities are covert from 20,000 feet up. It takes boots on the ground.

G. We judge with high confidence that Iran will not be technically capable of producing and reprocessing enough plutonium for a weapon before about 2015. H. We assess with high confidence that Iran has the scientific, technical and industrial capacity eventually to produce nuclear weapons if it decides to do so.

The fact that our intelligence agencies have now placed a date of 2015 on Iran's possible development of a nuke should take any proposed military action by the present administration completely off the table. Whatever needs to be done it should be the purview of the next president who will be inaugurated in 2009. There's simply no urgency to do anything about this theoretical Iranian threat in the next 14 months.

Sorry neocons, but there will be no rockets red glare over Teheran anytime soon.

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Comments (14)

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

Ahmadinejad is declaring "a victory" over this report and the revelation that Bush and Cheney are still up to the same lies.

Way to go, Republicans.

National Guard LT:

Lee Ward, I share the same sentiment that Bush and Cheney have given Iran a victory because of their own stupid bellicosity.

This morning, I took a tour of right leaning blogs and the comments are filled with "Canadian Dollars" (aka Loonies).

Last night I hugged my kids because we stepped back from the brink of another useless conflict. I supported the invasion of Iraq, and have served in Iraq, but I also believe in "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice,"

It has been great to see oil drop, metals drop and the dollar gain since the release of the announcement. I was too happy breathing a sigh of relief to place some trades with my broker. ;)

I am still perplexed that your sister site has not covered this. I wanted to read what the comments would say.

You may want to tour the right wing blogs and snip some if the comments of what they are saying. They are calling the 2007 report a conspiracy because of "Clinton Staff Members at State" but I immediately wondered why then it was not a conspiracy of "Clinton Staff Members at State" in 2003? They look so stupid and undermine their own case.

This report is something the Right and the Left should be both cheering. With both the Right and Left (even if they are Atheist) looking up to the heavens and saying "Thank You."

National Guard LT:

Larkin, I hope that this puts the nail in the campaign of John McCain.

Do you remember, "peaking at Murrells Inlet VFW Hall in South Carolina, McCain was asked when he thought the US Military might "send an air mail message to Tehran."

"McCain began his answer by changing the words to a popular Beach Boys song," the Georgetown Times reports.

"'Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran,' he sang to the tune of Barbara Ann," the paper notes."

The "you tube" is here=


America needs to be reminded that this man is not Presidential material. Someone needs to make an ad showing McCain with his "funny lyrics" then a solemn voice reading excerpts of the NIE.


So even though the intelligence agencies got it 100% wrong on Iraq, we can trust them on Iran now?

Ooooo Kayyy

Lee Ward:

Chip - If the NIE report said Iran DID have weapon plans then you would be telling us to not believe them? Tsk tsk, I sense a double standard here.

NG LT - Not to worry, the Republicans running for the White House will have many months to conjure up new boogey-men to shake at the American public. Bush tried to leverage NoKo into World War III and failed, and next he tried to push us into war with Iran, and now he's failed at that as well, but they won't stop there. Watch for Israel to ramp up their efforts to draw Iran into a war next, with the help of US Republicans help of course.



Maybe you're right. If the report HAD said that it's quite possible I would have been saying "see told ya", However, given that Iran has been saber rattling for quite some time and basically shoving the fact that they SHOULD be allowed to have nuclear weapons I'm gonna go with "erring on the side of caution" on this.Basically Lee, the evidence doesn't jive with the report just yet. For instance why is Iran stonewalling on letting inspectors in if they've given up aspirations of nuclear weapons? Some things just aren't adding up.

Lee Ward:

"For instance why is Iran stonewalling on letting inspectors in if they've given up aspirations of nuclear weapons?"

Saddam let in the inspectors, and even after they couldn't find anything the US ignored what the inspectors told us. Letting in the inspectors just escalates matters along the same path that Bush followed in invading Iraq. There are very good reasons for Iran to not do what the Bush administration wants them to do - given the Bush administration's record with regards to WMDs in Iraq.

The Bush White House believes what it wants to believe - and history has shown that the Bush White House gets it wrong and makes mistakes - lives and billions of dollars are lost as a result.

It would be one matter if the World wanted UN Inspectors in Iraq - but the world leaders know what even *we* now know thanks to the NIE - Iran is not a threat - and therefore the world isn't calling for inpsectors.

Just Bush, and now one believes him.

I agree that Iran is still a threat that needs to be dealt with - but dealing with Iran the way we dealt with Iraq would be a major mistake. We're not going down that road again, and if Bush can't figure out a better way to deal with Iran he'll doom the Republican chances in the 2008 presidential elections, because there sure aren't any original ideas coming out of the pack of old white guys running for the GOP nomination (except Ron Paul of course, but we all know he's a closet Democrat).



You are right, Iran has to be dealt with and to me it appears that President Bush is trying to do it with UN and International support. Now with the length of time it took President Bush to get something going on Iraq it's highly unlikely that he be able to even begin to get things going on Iran(militarily) so I think we're pretty safe against going to war with Iran for the time being.

There's something bugging me about the NIE though.
It says Iran "HALTED" it's nuclear weapons program, not DISMANTELED. This tells me that they had one and according to the NIE...

We judge with moderate confidence that the
earliest possible date Iran would be technically
capable of producing enough highly enriched
uranium (HEU) for a weapon is late 2009, but that
this is very unlikely.

Hmmm 2009, Now I don't know about you but that doesn't seem to far away.


Speaking of double standards...

Seems the same people that wrote the latest NIE about Iran also said

That Iraq "is reconstituting its nuclear program," "has chemical and biological weapons," and that "all key aspects--R&D [research and development], production, and weaponization--of Iraq's offensive biological weapons program are active and that most elements are larger and more advanced than they were before the Gulf War."


You're quick to say Bush lied about Iraq WMD when the intelligence community was saying the same thing. Seems when the NIE says what you want it to you show the same "double standard".

Lee Ward:


>> "We judge with moderate confidence that the
>> earliest possible date Iran would be technically
>> capable of producing enough highly enriched
>> uranium (HEU) for a weapon is late 2009, but that
>> this is very unlikely."

Chip: "Hmmm 2009, Now I don't know about you but that doesn't seem to far away."

There you go, ignoring the "very unlikely" assesment, and charging ahead and focusing on late 2009 even though it is very unlikely.

Yes, we shouldn't ignore it - NO, we DO NOT provide a military answer now or in the near future over something that is very unlikely, Chip.

"You're quick to say Bush lied about Iraq WMD when the intelligence community was saying the same thing. Seems when the NIE says what you want it to you show the same "double standard"."

Bush ignored Hans Blix, the Chief UN Inspector, and charged ahead with his own hugely flawed intelligence. I suggest we don't follow George Bush into battle ever again.



There you go, ignoring the "very unlikely" assesment, and charging ahead and focusing on late 2009 even though it is very unlikely.

Not completely ignoring it, just(as I said before) erring on the side of caution. They did say "Very Unlikley," not impossible.

I suggest we don't follow George Bush into battle ever again.

Well I'm pretty sure you don't have to worry about that with regards to Iran. 1. Not enough time left in his Presidency, and 2. Even without the latest NIE Russia China and Democrats were going to ensure that President Bush wouldn't have the authority.

Lee Ward:

"Erring" was a good choice of words, however we've had enough "erring" - it's time for the White House to just plain "get it right" and stop the fracking "erring", imho.


I see, so you disagree with the Presidents plan to use the UN and the EU to exert international pressure on Iran to give up its aspirations of nuclear weapons for good? In your mind its a good thing that they've just "halted" the program, not dismantled it? You say you agree Iran has to be dealt with but obviously don't want the President to do anything about it at all. Good plan.

Lee Ward:

I think sanctions are swell, actually. And harsher means may be needed in the future. I'm not suggesting that there isn't a problem, just suggesting we can't trust the White House to be honest with us and tell us what the problem is.

I'm unhappy with the fact that Bush and Cheney tried to push us into another war under false pretenses, and I'm relieved that the NIE report was finally released.

There is still a very serious problem in Iran, and now it appears that Bush won't have the leverage to go to war with Iran - as much as he'd like to. I think that's good news, I think Iraq was a huge mistake and I don't think the White House has learned any lessons from Iraq.

This means that we'll have a new president - hopefully a smarter president -- who can deal with the problem before it gets to the point of war.


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Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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