Apparently their nuke program has been stalled since 2003. Bush and company have known this for a good year now, but have still been beating the war drums.
Iran is continuing to produce enriched uranium, a program that the Tehran government has said is designed for civilian purposes. The new estimate says that enrichment program could still provide Iran with enough raw material to produce a nuclear weapon sometime by the middle of next decade, a timetable essentially unchanged from previous estimates.
But the new estimate declares with â€œhigh confidenceâ€ that a military-run Iranian program intended to transform that raw material into a nuclear weapon has been shut down since 2003, and also says with high confidence that the halt â€œwas directed primarily in response to increasing international scrutiny and pressure.â€
The estimate does not say when American intelligence agencies learned that the weapons program had been halted, but a statement issued by Donald Kerr, the principal director of national intelligence, said the document was being made public â€œsince our understanding of Iranâ€™s capabilities has changed.â€
I guess what we’re saying is we now realize that they’re really trying to build an energy program instead of a weapons program? Is that how we should read this?
Todayâ€™s National Intelligence Estimate offers some positive news. It confirms that we were right to be worried about Iran seeking to develop nuclear weapons. 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 â€” without the use of force â€” as the Administration has been trying to do. And it suggests that the President has the right strategy: intensified international pressure along with a willingness to negotiate a solution that serves Iranian interests while ensuring that the world will never have to face a nuclear armed Iran.
The bottom line is this: for that strategy to succeed, the international community has to turn up the pressure on Iran â€” with diplomatic isolation, United Nations sanctions, and with other financial pressure â€” and Iran has to decide it wants to negotiate a solution.
That’s fair, but again, why are we only seeing this NIE now? Why have Bush and Cheney pushed the meme that Iran could start World War III?
Regardless, Iran is off the table as far as a target goes. At least for now.