In Iran We Trust? If Tehran Breaks Its Promises, We're Unlikely to Know

(Weekly Standard) Gabriel Schoenfeld - President Obama has proudly declared that diplomacy opened a path to "a future in which we can verify that Iran's nuclear program is peaceful and that it cannot build a nuclear weapon." How much confidence can we have that the ayatollahs will not press ahead with their nuclear program in clandestine facilities, as they have done in the past? And how much confidence can we have that our intelligence agencies will catch them? A three-year study by the Defense Science Board concluded that U.S. intelligence agencies "are not yet organized or fully equipped" to detect when foreign powers are constructing nuclear weapons or adding to existing arsenals. What is more, their ability to find "small nuclear enterprises designed to produce, store, and deploy only a small number of weapons" is "either inadequate, or more often, [does] not exist." With regard to identifying Syria's nuclear reactor at al-Kibar, the multibillion-dollar, ultra-high-tech tools of U.S. intelligence were foiled by one of the most low-cost and ancient techniques of warfare: camouflage. Only in 2007, just as it was ready to be loaded with uranium fuel, did U.S. intelligence conclude that Syria had built a reactor, thanks to incontrovertible evidence provided by Israel. Under our eyes but without our seeing, the Syrians had come breathtakingly close to possessing an operational generator of the nuclear bomb ingredient plutonium. "How can we have any confidence at all in the estimates of the scope of the North Korean, Iranian, or other possible programs?" asked former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates. The writer is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.

2014-02-04 00:00:00

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