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Thread: U.S. Says Iran Ended Atomic Arms Work

  1. #1
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    U.S. Says Iran Ended Atomic Arms Work

    [URL="http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/03/world/middleeast/03cnd-iran.html?hp"]http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/03/world/middleeast/03cnd-iran.html?hp[/URL]


    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 on hold, contradicting an assessment two years ago that Tehran was working inexorably toward building a bomb.

    The conclusions of the new assessment are likely to be major factor in the tense international negotiations aimed at getting Iran to halt its nuclear energy program. Concerns about Iran were raised sharply after 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.

    The finding also come in the middle of a presidential campaign during which a possible military strike against Iran’s nuclear program has been discussed. The assessment, a National Intelligence Estimate that represents the consensus view of all 16 American spy agencies, states that Tehran’s ultimate intentions about gaining a nuclear weapon remain unclear, but that 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.”

    “Some combination of threats of intensified international scrutiny and pressures, 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,” the estimate states.

    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. The report led to congressional authorization for a military invasion of Iraq, although most of the N.I.E.’s conclusions turned out to be wrong. The estimate does say that Iran’s ultimate goal is still to develop the capability to produce a nuclear weapon.

    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.

    Last month, Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the international Atomic Energy Agency, had reported that Iran was operating 3,000 uranium-enriching centrifuges, capable of producing fissile material for nuclear weapons.

    But his report said that I.A.E.A. inspectors in Iran had been unable to determine whether the Iranian program sought only to generate electricity or also to build weapons.

    The N.I.E. concludes that if Iran were to end the freeze of its weapons program, it would still be at least two years before Tehran would have enough highly enriched uranium to produce a nuclear bomb. But it says it is still “very unlikely” Iran could produce enough of the material by then.

    Instead, today’s report concludes it is more likely Iran could have a bomb by the early part to the middle of the next decade. The report states that the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research judges Iran is unlikely to achieve this goal before 2013, “because of foreseeable technical and programmatic problems.”

    The new assessment upends a judgment made about Iran’s nuclear capabilities in 2005. At the time, intelligence agencies assessed with “high confidence” that Iran is determined to have nuclear weapons and concluded that Iran had a secret nuclear weapons program.

    Since then, officials said they have obtained new information leading them to conclude that international pressure, including tough economic sanctions, had been successful in bringing about a halt to Iran’s secret program.

    “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 during a telephone interview, speaking on condition of anonymity.

    In a separate statement accompanying the N.I.E., Deputy Director of National Intelligence Donald M. Kerr said that given the new conclusions, it was important to release the report publicly “to ensure that an accurate presentation is available.”

  2. #2
    There's no other way around it, the people who support the warhawk neocons are idiots, plain and simple. They somehow are willing to throw their support behind individuals who have made their fortunes out of war and crisis, and they think these people will somehow make the world a better place. They deserve to have their voting rights taken away.

  3. #3
    [QUOTE]A new assessment by American intelligence agencies concludes that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that the program remains on hold[/quote]

    [QUOTE]contradicting an assessment[/QUOTE]

    [QUOTE]The assessment, a National Intelligence Estimate that represents the consensus view of all 16 American spy agencies[/QUOTE]

    [QUOTE]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......most of the N.I.E.’s conclusions turned out to be wrong. [/QUOTE]

    [QUOTE]The estimate does say that Iran’s ultimate goal is still to develop the capability to produce a nuclear weapon.[/QUOTE]

    Forgive me if I view anything U.S. Intelligence says with a grain (boulder?) of Salt.

  4. #4
    I am sure that this has p!ssed off many of the warmongers who won't send them or their kids into the meat grinders.....

    I hope that this is true.

  5. #5
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    [QUOTE=Warfish;2243330]Forgive me if I view anything U.S. Intelligence says with a grain (boulder?) of Salt.[/QUOTE]

    Agreed.

    But where else can we look for answers?

  6. #6
    [QUOTE=Buster;2243364]Agreed.

    But where else can we look for answers?[/QUOTE]

    That the snag, isn't it. Where indeed.:(

    However, unlike my biased brethren above you in this very thread, I refuse to take an Intelligence estimate as "fact" from the same organizations that absolutely failed, both before 9-11 and leading up to Iraq. They were wrong then, what on Earth gives my Liberal Anti-War friends the idea that they'd be so much more Right now?

    See, it’s threads and posts like theirs that really make me dislike and lose respect for those who let bias overrule logic. NIE has been horridly wrong all over the place, and these very same Liberal posters now take their words as if they were the word of God, and use it toplay the “I told you so” game. These, the same Liberals who for years now have slammed the NIE (rightfully) for being inept and routinely wrong in it’s estimates.

    Screw that. Till the NIE starts getting things right…often….I trust them as little now as I did then. Which is to say damn little.

  7. #7
    [QUOTE=Warfish;2243381]That the snag, isn't it. Where indeed.:(

    However, unlike my biased brethren above you in this very thread, I refuse to take an Intelligence estimate as "fact" from the same organizations that absolutely failed, both before 9-11 and leading up to Iraq. They were wrong then, what on Earth gives my Liberal Anti-War friends the idea that they'd be so much more Right now?

    See, it’s threads and posts like theirs that really make me dislike and lose respect for those who let bias overrule logic. NIE has been horridly wrong all over the place, and these very same Liberal posters now take their words as if they were the word of God, and use it toplay the “I told you so” game. These, the same Liberals who for years now have slammed the NIE (rightfully) for being inept and routinely wrong in it’s estimates.

    Screw that. Till the NIE starts getting things right…often….I trust them as little now as I did then. Which is to say damn little.[/QUOTE]


    Warfish,

    While the NIE has certainly earned the skepticism you voice above, but what I think is good about this report is that the entire thing was aired. Not just little pieces designed to promote one view or course of action, but the whole thing -- warts, doubts and all.

    The NIE on Iraq intel --which you refer to above-- actually did have quite a bit of doubt in it regarding WMDs. But those doubts weren't in the bits and pieces leaked to the public by those making the case for war. The cherrypicking of intel is the most damnable thing that happened in the runup to the Iraq invasion, by far.

    Here we have a frank and full public assessment of what (we think) we know. I do think any policy adjustments we make based on it ought to include hedges in the event its wrong (again). But at least we are getting the full picture, and not just cherrypicked pieces of it.

  8. #8
    I'm sorry my friend, but if you think the decision to release "all of it" wasn't made with specific motivations, you are sadly naive. What those motivations are.......and whose motivations they are (i.e. NIE desperately trying to hedge it's own bets due to previosu black eyes, for example).....thats the hard part to tell.

    And if you really think this is "all of it" when it comes to our intel, you are again being naive. I guarantee you this report is not close to the "full picture" on Iranian activities.

    And I don't particularly think you're naive Nu. Point here is......believe it when we see it is the best course, and take everything our Govt. says (even if it sides with your "side" of Politics) with a giant grain of skeptics salt.

  9. #9
    Iran knows well that if anyone gets nuked they will get invaded. They are not stupid enough to give nuclear weapons to anyone to bomb Israel or America or any other country.

    Yes, they are a backwards country in terms of religion. But so are African tribal nations. And both entities have about the same chance of successfully nuking a country and getting away with it.

  10. #10
    [QUOTE=Warfish;2243330]Forgive me if I view anything U.S. Intelligence says with a grain (boulder?) of Salt.[/QUOTE]

    I take it you felt the same way when our leaders claim "the intelligence shows Iran is heading toward developing a Nuclear Arsenal". Right?

  11. #11
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    [QUOTE=JetsCrazey;2243512]Iran knows well that if anyone gets nuked they will get invaded. They are not stupid enough to give nuclear weapons to anyone to bomb Israel or America or any other country.

    Yes, they are a backwards country in terms of religion. But so are African tribal nations. And both entities have about the same chance of successfully nuking a country and getting away with it.[/QUOTE]

    the truth is more like:

    Iran knows well that if anyone gets nuked they will get [B][I][U]NUKED[/U][/I][/B].

    And that is why all of this saber rattling about Iran is stupid. We already have them in Check.

    It also gives a lot of credibility to those who argue that the Bush administration is all about handing out government contracts to the "military industrial complex".

  12. #12
    [QUOTE=kennyo7;2243533]I take it you felt the same way when our leaders claim "the intelligence shows Iran is heading toward developing a Nuclear Arsenal". Right?[/QUOTE]

    Feel. Not felt.

    And yes, aggressive estimates get the same post-Iraq boulder of cynical skeptical salt as cya estimates do.

  13. #13
    [QUOTE=Warfish;2243470]I'm sorry my friend, but if you think the decision to release "all of it" wasn't made with specific motivations, you are sadly naive. What those motivations are.......and whose motivations they are (i.e. NIE desperately trying to hedge it's own bets due to previosu black eyes, for example).....thats the hard part to tell.

    And if you really think this is "all of it" when it comes to our intel, you are again being naive. I guarantee you this report is not close to the "full picture" on Iranian activities.

    And I don't particularly think you're naive Nu. Point here is......believe it when we see it is the best course, and take everything our Govt. says (even if it sides with your "side" of Politics) with a giant grain of skeptics salt.[/QUOTE]


    Of course it's not everything. But it appears to be far more complete than, say, the collage of pre-Iraq leaks. And --based on what it says-- it does not offer any particular slam-dunk for either side. (Those who are against a war with Iran can tout the fact that its nuke program may be dormant; those in favor of such a war can note that Iran has the ability to restart it with relative ease, according to this.)

    This looks like a fairly balanced assessment that might take some urgency from the Iran hawks, but hardly gets rid of the notion that Iran will be a huge issue for the next administration.

    And getting it disclosed by the White House is 100x better than getting the same sort of misleading, incomplete leaks that shaped the Iraq war. Which, according to the story below, is what would have happened otherwise.

    [QUOTE][url]http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=39978[/url]

    POLITICS-US: Cheney Tried to Stifle Dissent in Iran NIE
    By Gareth Porter*

    WASHINGTON, Nov 8 (IPS) - A National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran has been held up for more than a year in an effort to force the intelligence community to remove dissenting judgments on the Iranian nuclear programme, and thus make the document more supportive of U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney's militarily aggressive policy toward Iran, according to accounts of the process provided by participants to two former Central Intelligence Agency officers.

    But this pressure on intelligence analysts, obviously instigated by Cheney himself, has not produced a draft estimate without those dissenting views, these sources say. The White House has now apparently decided to release the unsatisfactory draft NIE, but without making its key findings public.

    A former CIA intelligence officer who has asked not to be identified told IPS that an official involved in the NIE process says the Iran estimate was ready to be published a year ago but has been delayed because the director of national intelligence wanted a draft reflecting a consensus on key conclusions -- particularly on Iran's nuclear programme.

    The NIE coordinates the judgments of 16 intelligence agencies on a specific country or issue.

    There is a split in the intelligence community on how much of a threat the Iranian nuclear programme poses, according to the intelligence official's account. Some analysts who are less independent are willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the alarmist view coming from Cheney's office, but others have rejected that view.

    The draft NIE first completed a year ago, which had included the dissenting views, was not acceptable to the White House, according to the former intelligence officer. "They refused to come out with a version that had dissenting views in it," he says.

    As recently as early October, the official involved in the process was said to be unclear about whether an NIE would be circulated and, if so, what it would say.

    Former CIA officer Philip Giraldi provided a similar account, based on his own sources in the intelligence community. He told IPS that intelligence analysts have had to review and rewrite their findings three times, because of pressure from the White House.

    "The White House wants a document that it can use as evidence for its Iran policy," says Giraldi. Despite pressures on them to change their dissenting conclusions, however, Giraldi says some analysts have refused to go along with conclusions that they believe are not supported by the evidence.

    In October 2006, Giraldi wrote in The American Conservative that the NIE on Iran had already been completed, but that Cheney's office had objected to its findings on both the Iranian nuclear programme and Iran's role in Iraq. The draft NIE did not conclude that there was confirming evidence that Iran was arming the Shiite insurgents in Iraq, according to Giraldi.

    Giraldi said the White House had decided to postpone any decision on the internal release of the NIE until after the November 2006 elections.

    Cheney's desire for a "clean" NIE that could be used to support his aggressive policy toward Iran was apparently a major factor in the replacement of John Negroponte as director of national intelligence in early 2007.

    Negroponte had angered the neoconservatives in the administration by telling the press in April 2006 that the intelligence community believed that it would still be "a number of years off" before Iran would be "likely to have enough fissile material to assemble into or to put into a nuclear weapon, perhaps into the next decade."

    Neoconservatives immediately attacked Negroponte for the statement, which merely reflected the existing NIE on Iran issued in spring 2005. Robert G. Joseph, the undersecretary of state for arms control and an ally of Cheney, contradicted Negroponte the following day. He suggested that Iran's nuclear programme was nearing the "point of no return" -- an Israeli concept referring to the mastery of industrial-scale uranium enrichment.

    Frank J. Gaffney, a protégé of neoconservative heavyweight Richard Perle, complained that Negroponte was "absurdly declaring the Iranian regime to be years away from having nuclear weapons".

    On Jan. 5, 2007, Pres. George W. Bush announced the nomination of retired Vice Admiral John Michael "Mike" McConnell to be director of national intelligence. McConnell was approached by Cheney himself about accepting the position, according to Newsweek.

    McConnell was far more amenable to White House influence than his predecessor. On Feb. 27, one week after his confirmation, he told the Senate Armed Services Committee he was "comfortable saying it's probable" that the alleged export of explosively formed penetrators to Shiite insurgents in Iraq was linked to the highest leadership in Iran.

    Cheney had been making that charge, but Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defence Robert M. Gates, as well as Negroponte, had opposed it.

    A public event last spring indicated that White House had ordered a reconsideration of the draft NIE's conclusion on how many years it would take Iran to produce a nuclear weapon. The previous Iran estimate completed in spring 2005 had estimated it as 2010 to 2015.

    Two weeks after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced in mid-April that Iran would begin producing nuclear fuel on an industrial scale, the chairman of the National Intelligence Council, Thomas Fingar, said in an interview with National Public Radio that the completion of the NIE on Iran had been delayed while the intelligence community determined whether its judgment on the time frame within which Iran might produce a nuclear weapon needed to be amended.

    Fingar said the estimate "might change", citing "new reporting" from the International Atomic Energy Agency as well as "some other new information we have". And then he added, "We are serious about reexamining old evidence."

    That extraordinary revelation about the NIE process, which was obviously ordered by McConnell, was an unsubtle signal to the intelligence community that the White House was determined to obtain a more alarmist conclusion on the Iranian nuclear programme.

    A decision announced in late October indicated, however, that Cheney did not get the consensus findings on the nuclear programme and Iran's role in Iraq that he had wanted. On Oct. 27, David Shedd, a deputy to McConnell, told a congressional briefing that McConnell had issued a directive making it more difficult to declassify the key judgments of national intelligence estimates.

    That reversed a Bush administration practice of releasing summaries of "key judgments" in NIEs that began when the White House made public the key judgments from the controversial 2002 NIE on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction programme in July 2003.

    The decision to withhold key judgments on Iran from the public was apparently part of a White House strategy for reducing the potential damage of publishing the estimate with the inclusion of dissenting views.

    As of early October, officials involved in the NIE were "throwing their hands up in frustration" over the refusal of the administration to allow the estimate to be released, according to the former intelligence officer. But the Iran NIE is now expected to be circulated within the administration in late November, says Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst and founder of the anti-war group Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

    The release of the Iran NIE would certainly intensify the bureaucratic political struggle over Iran policy. If the NIE includes both dissenting views on key issues, a campaign of selective leaking to news media of language from the NIE that supports Cheney's line on Iran will soon follow, as well as leaks of the dissenting views by his opponents.

    Both sides may be anticipating another effort by Cheney to win Bush's approval of a significant escalation of military pressure on Iran in early 2008. [/QUOTE]

  14. #14
    This information was available when we were hearing all the rhetoric about Iran's potential nuclear capabilities. Perhaps this information is now being made public to apply pressure to the up and coming Security Council vote for more sanctions against Iran. The theory being if sanction worked in the past sanctions plus diplomacy might work in the future.

    This is all well and good but they are still enriching uranium.

  15. #15
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    If this is true, its just good that the info got out before we screwed the pooch again like in Iraq.

  16. #16
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    Who knows if this is true. I sincerely hope it is. But has it ever ocurred to anyone that perhaps concealing a weapons program from the UN/US was not a wise move post 2003, considering what happened to Saddam Hussein for doing that, or, perhaps more accurately, apparently concealing a severely degraded weapons program in the hopes that he'd bluff Iran into thinking he had tons, all while never believing the UN/US would do anything about it? Has it ever ocurred to anyone that "diplomacy" and "international pressure" are far more effective when backed by a credible threat of force and that, in the absence of invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and a seemimgly resolute and determined US President, such international pressure would have been far less effective since Iran could have believed, like Saddam did, that the US/UN wouldn't do a d*mn thing about them pursuing nukes? Libya came clean after what they saw happened. What do you people think is a major part of the "cost-benefit" approach we think Iran is undertaking? Gee, do you even have to wonder for a split second what the "costs" are? And PLEASE spare me the tired liberal line of "The leadership of Iran WANTS to US to attack/bomb/invade them." My a$$.

    Again, we don't know much and the key conclusions are missing and everyone will play politics with this. And my synopsis above may be false. Who knows? I sure don't. But it IS telling that the usual suspects on this board revert to predictable conclusions. Everyone has their narrative that they have to follow. Unreal.
    Last edited by jets5ever; 12-04-2007 at 10:45 AM.

  17. #17
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    [QUOTE=jets5ever;2245409]And PLEASE spare me the tired liberal line of "The leadership of Iran WANTS to US to attack/bomb/invade them." My a$$.[/QUOTE]

    That's a liberal line?

  18. #18
    [QUOTE=jets5ever;2245409]Who knows if this is true. I sincerely hope it is. But has it ever ocurred to anyone that perhaps concealing a weapons program from the UN/US was not a wise move post 2003, considering what happened to Saddam Hussein for doing that, or, perhaps more accurately, apparently concealing a severely degraded weapons program in the hopes that he'd bluff Iran into thinking he had tons, all while never believing the UN/US would do anything about it? Has it ever ocurred to anyone that "diplomacy" and "international pressure" are far more effective when backed by a credible threat of force and that, in the absence of invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and a seemimgly resolute and determined US President, such international pressure would have been far less effective since Iran could have believed, like Saddam did, that the US/UN wouldn't do a d*mn thing about them pursuing nukes? Libya came clean after what they saw happened. What do you people think is a major part of the "cost-benefit" approach we think Iran is undertaking? Gee, do you even have to wonder for a split second what the "costs" are? And PLEASE spare me the tired liberal line of "The leadership of Iran WANTS to US to attack/bomb/invade them." My a$$.

    Again, we don't know much and the key conclusions are missing and everyone will play politics with this. And my synopsis above may be false. Who knows? I sure don't. But it IS telling that the usual suspects on this board revert to predictable conclusions. Everyone has their narrative that they have to follow. Unreal.[/QUOTE]

    It is possible that the Iraq invasion played some role in Iran pausing its nuke program (if it actually did). Of course, if Iran's motivation was to avoid a confrontation with the U.S., which it was on relatively good terms with in 2003 after having assisted us in Afghanistan, it would seem that announcing its course of action (as Libya did) would make more sense. Rather, Iran has continued to saber rattle in completely unnecessary ways (such as menacing Israel with weapons it is apparently not even developing and kidnapping British soldiers.)

    Iran is behaving like it is trying to pick a fight with the west. You say it is a tired liberal line that Iran wants us to bomb them or at least to escalate our rhetoric toward them (you mention invasion, which is not being discussed by anyone serious because we have no troops to do it, among other reasons). This is hardly a liberal theory at all. It is well known and widely accepted that the current regime is unpopular for economic reasons and that a clash with the west could rally people behind it.

    It is completely plausible that a U.S. military action against Iran might wind up bolstering the regime there. Inevitable? No, but to belittle people who are wary about it is arrogant and foolish.

    Now, that aside, you are correct in pointing out that diplomacy is more effective when backed by a credible threat of force. It is also correct that it is less effective when backed by beligerence. There is a fine line to walk.

  19. #19
    [QUOTE=Warfish;2243381]They were wrong then, what on Earth gives my Liberal Anti-War friends the idea that they'd be so much more Right now?

    [/QUOTE]


    because they aren't the same people

    everyone who was involved with the first NIE were either fired or quit.

    this NIE had to be certain because the last one was so bad.

    Warfish your lack of faith in the entire institution would be akin to saying there's no point to elect a new president, because the last two were so terrible.

  20. #20
    [QUOTE=bitonti;2245839]because they aren't the same people

    everyone who was involved with the first NIE were either fired or quit.

    this NIE had to be certain because the last one was so bad. .[/QUOTE]

    You don't actually think the various agencies have turned over every employee since those previous poor jobs, do you?

    Leadership has changed, yes. The guys who do all the work has not changed at all.

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