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Monday, December 03, 2007

What Iranian nuclear program?

This is all over the blogosphere, but I wanted to save the link for myself. The latest official National Intelligence Estimate for Iran (public version) says that Iran is NOT developing a nuclear weapon. They stopped military work years ago:
We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program
Because Iran has a uranium enrichment program, the NIE also says this in the following clause: "we also assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons."

More conclusions:
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.

We continue to assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Iran does not currently have a nuclear weapon.

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.
As Patrick Jackson notes, this part of the NIE is interesting given what the US has been saying about Iran's President these past two years:
Our assessment that Iran halted the program in 2003 primarily in response to international pressure indicates Tehran’s decisions are guided by a cost-benefit approach rather than a rush to a weapon irrespective of the political, economic, and military costs. This, in turn, suggests that 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.
We just might get a negotiated solution yet.

It seems quite unlikely now that the U.S. could muster a case for war before the end of the Bush administration.

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