A new assessment by American intelligence agencies concludes that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that the program remains on hold, contradicting an assessment two years ago that Tehran was working inexorably toward building a bomb.
The assessment, a National Intelligence Estimate that represents the consensus view of all 16 American spy agencies, states that Tehran’s ultimate intentions about gaining a nuclear weapon remain unclear, but that Iran’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 isn’t new information; Sy Hersh was saying that the CIA doubted the existence of a weapons program more than a year ago. But it’ll get national headlines now, which is good. The liberal line on Iran shouldn’t be that we can prevent them from getting nukes through sanctions and diplomacy; it should be that there is no nuclear weapons program in Iran, and that sanctioning and (especially) talking about bombing them will likely cause them to seek refuge in a nuclear deterrent that they’d be otherwise disinclined to seek. The baseline assumption in this debate has always been that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons; it’s the responsibility of anyone with even a passing interest in the truth to help tear that assumption down.
Though I do wonder: when a major Democratic candidate for president didn’t even bother to read a skeptical NIE on Iraq before voting to go to war, will she care about what this one says?