Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Don't Worry. Wait, Worry! (WSJ-BOTW)
Remember that reassuring news about Iran's nuclear program from the National Intelligence Estimate? Don't be so reassured, reports the New York Sun:

The director of national intelligence is backing away from his agency's assessment late last year that Iran had halted its nuclear program, saying he wishes he had written the unclassified version of the document in a different manner.
At a hearing yesterday of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the intelligence director, Michael McConnell, said, "If I had 'til now to think about it, I probably would change a few things." He later added, "I would change the way we describe the Iranian nuclear program. I would have included that there are the component parts, that the portion of it, maybe the least significant, had halted." . . .
Yesterday, Mr. McConnell struck a different tone. "Declared uranium enrichment efforts, which will enable the production of fissile material, continue. This is the most difficult challenge in nuclear production. Iran's efforts to perfect ballistic missiles that can reach North Africa and Europe also continue."
He went on, "We remain concerned about Iran's intentions and assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons."

The New York Times, which has been beating the drums for complacency, buries the Iran revelation in paragraphs 12-17 of a story on McConnell's testimony, getting to it only after a section about al Qaeda getting stronger in Pakistan and one on waterboarding. (Ho hum, we're waterbored.)

The mainstream media and elements in the intelligence community may well have succeeded in ensuring that there will not be serious action, military or otherwise, against Iran's nuclear program during the Bush administration. That ought to make John McCain, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton nervous, for it is most likely that one of them will have to deal with the consequences.

U.S. Intelligence Chief Corrects Impression Given by NIE on Iran - Demetri Sevastopulo
Admiral Michael McConnell, director of national intelligence, told the Senate intelligence committee Tuesday that the November national intelligence estimate had concluded that Tehran had ceased only efforts to covertly enrich uranium and design nuclear warheads. "The only thing that they've halted was nuclear weapons design, which is probably the least significant part of the program," he said. McConnell said Iran continued to develop uranium enrichment technology and longer-range ballistic missiles. (
Financial Times-UK)

See also U.S.: Iran Could Have Enough Uranium for Bomb in 2009, But More Likely After 2010 - Pete Williams
McConnell said the U.S. intelligence community assesses "with moderate-to-high confidence that Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons." The earliest Iran would be technically capable of producing enough highly enriched uranium for a weapon is late 2009, but that's very unlikely, he said. More likely that date would be sometime between 2010 and 2015, he added. (
NBC News)

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