Judging Iran's Nuclear Program

[Washington Institute for Near East Policy] Patrick Clawson - The just-released National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), "Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities," is about weaponization, not the enrichment and fuel cycle issues that have been the focus of multiple UN Security Council and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) board resolutions regarding Iran's nuclear program. The NIE only suggests that Tehran has changed its sequence - something that does not slow the country's progress toward a nuclear weapon by a single day. Therefore, it is not clear how this report affects the current thrust of U.S. policy: to stem Iran's nuclear fuel cycle capabilities. The NIE states that Iran is making a headlong rush to produce enriched uranium - an attitude that does not support Tehran's claims of a strictly peaceful nuclear program. Indeed, the NIE's information about Iran's enrichment program is inconsistent with any claim that the regime has abandoned its interest in nuclear weapons. The U.S. intelligence community has a poor track record regarding nuclear weapons programs, making incorrect judgments on some of the most important proliferation cases. It badly misjudged not only what Iraq was doing, but also the progress Libya and North Korea were making before caught. The reality is that the estimate says little about whether Iran still aims to produce nuclear weapons or when it might do so.

2007-12-05 01:00:00

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