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Saturday, August 26, 2006

Iran threat: known unknowns

The BBC, from the latest House Intelligence Committee report:
"There is a great deal about Iran that we do not know," it says, warning that "policymakers will need high-quality intelligence to assess Iranian intentions to prepare for any new round of negotiations".

"A special concern is major gaps in our knowledge of Iranian nuclear, biological, and chemical programmes," the report says.
Despite the uncertainly acknowledged in the report, most of the news stories seem to quote the parts of the document that make Iran seem especially threatening.

Yes, the full report asserts that the threat from Iran is growing. And Iran's alleged pursuit of WMD is described as "probable."

However, there is another interesting possibility raised on p. 13. Iran could just be bluffing -- like Iraq apparently was:
Although it is likely that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, there is the possibility that Iran could be engaged in a denial and deception campaign to exaggerate progress on its nuclear program such as Saddam Hussein apparently did concerning his WMD programs. U.S. leaders need more definitive intelligence to judge the status of the Iranian nuclear program and whether there have been any related deception efforts.
I haven't seen this view referenced widely throughout the media reports.

For some additional healthy skepticism about the report, see Gary Sick's thoughts, as reported by Laura Rozen guesting blogging at Political Animal.

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