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Second Iran Nuke Site Proves NIE Wrong

From the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal:

Intelligence Fiasco Footnote

OCTOBER 8, 2009

When it comes to politicized intelligence in the Bush years, the critics may finally have a point. Perhaps the work of America’s intelligence agencies was manipulated to suit the convenience of a small group of willful officials, intent on getting their way against the better judgment of their colleagues.

Except the intelligence was about Iran, not Iraq, and the manipulators weren’t conniving neocons but rather the Administration’s internal critics on the left.

That’s one way to look at last month’s revelation that Iran is building a secret second site to enrich uranium, among other emerging intelligence details. The Qom site—too small for civilian purposes but ideal for producing weapons-grade uranium—is supervised by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and was only declared to the International Atomic Energy Agency after Tehran got wind that the nuclear watchdogs knew about it.

But the more telling detail, as a recent White House "guidance paper" acknowledges, is that the U.S. has been "carefully observing and analyzing this facility for several years." That timeline is significant, because it was less than two years ago, in December 2007, that a National Intelligence Estimate on Iran’s nuclear programs asserted with "high confidence" that Tehran had "halted its nuclear weapons program" in the fall of 2003.

The NIE was a political sensation, seized on by Democrats and Iraq war critics as another case in which the Bush Administration had supposedly politicized intelligence. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the NIE a "declaration of victory," and it derailed any hopes for the Bush Administration to garner international support for tougher sanctions on Iran.

Yet some of us noted at the time that the NIE added, in a crucial footnote, that by "nuclear weapons program" it meant "weapon design and weaponization work and . . . uranium enrichment-related work," rather than Iran’s "declared" nuclear facilities. The NIE’s main authors—including former intelligence official Tom Fingar and other internal critics of Bush Administration policies—downplayed this critical detail. Never mind that it was precisely Iran’s "declared" nuclear facilities that constituted the core element of any nuclear-weapons program.

Fast forward to the present, and it turns out the NIE was misleading even on its own terms: Iran did have a covert facility, perhaps for enrichment, and the intelligence community knew or at least strongly suspected it. We are also learning that the NIE’s judgment puts the U.S. intelligence community at odds with its counterparts in Britain, Germany and Israel, which have evidence to show that Iran resumed its weaponization work after 2003.

The Wall Street Journal Europe reported on July 30 that Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, the BND, "has amassed evidence of a sophisticated Iranian nuclear weapons program that continued beyond 2003. This usually classified information comes courtesy of Germany’s highest state-security court. In a 30-page legal opinion on March 26 and a May 27 press release in a case about possible illegal trading with Iran, a special national security panel of the Federal Supreme Court in Karlsruhe cites from a May 2008 BND report, saying the agency ‘showed comprehensively’ that ‘development work on nuclear weapons can be observed in Iran even after 2003.’"

The 2007 NIE also contradicts the findings of the usually hypercautious IAEA, which concluded in a recent analysis that Iran "has sufficient information to be able to design and produce a workable implosion nuclear device." The word "implosion" is especially significant because it means Iran is likely seeking to design a warhead compact enough to be fitted atop one of its increasingly capable ballistic missiles.

It’s of course possible that the U.S. has it right and everyone else has it wrong. But given the stakes if Iran does get the bomb, and given everything we know about Iran’s history of deception, the obligation of intelligence agencies is not to issue politically skewed "estimates" that derail U.S. policy to stop the Iranian program. Getting it wrong on Iran—the most crucial intelligence question of the decade—would be no small footnote in the CIA’s history of intelligence blunders.

As we noted at the time of the publication of the 2007 NIE, the only reliable intelligence about Iran’s nuclear program has come from the people who exposed it in the first place in 2002 — the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

And the NCRI claimed long before the 2007 NIE was published that Iran had suspended their nuclear work in March of 2003 – at the time of the US invasion of Iraq – only to resume it soon after in 2004.

And, once again, the NCRI have been proven right.

But the Democrats and their lickspittle slaveys in the media were only too happy to pounce on the ill-informed 2007 NIE because it suited their agenda.

Indeed, as the Wall Street Journal noted at the time, it was written by their fellow travelers.

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, October 8th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

One Response to “Second Iran Nuke Site Proves NIE Wrong”

  1. canary says:

    Would the chemical weapons Iraq is reported to have, been chemicals that caused Gulf War Syndrome. If you recall one female soldier was buried up to the neck in a scummy muddy substance, yet hers and other Gulf War soldiers ongoing symptoms, have been forgotten.
    Possibly Iraq moved their chemical weapons to Iran?
    (for entire report and photo’s)

    Ahwazi Organization Special Dispatch – No. 2579 October 6, 2009 – No. 2579
    Ahwazi Organization: Iran is Planning to Attack the Gulf Countries; Iran is Producing Chemical Weapons and Burying the Waste in Ahwaz

    It should be noted that this organization claims to be operating with Saudi backup and support.

    The Islamic Ahwazi Sunni Organization’s report stated: “In the past, numerous reports by [various] elements claimed that, in addition to nuclear weapons, Iran has a program to develop chemical weapons inside Iran,” in violation of the Treaty for the Prevention of the Proliferation of Nuclear and Chemical Weapons [sic, probably NPT and CWC]. Furthermore, “after the April 15, 2005 intifada [the Ahwazi rebellion against the Iranian regime], it was repeatedly reported that chemicals were conveyed to southern Ahwaz for unknown reasons. However, it has now been discovered that Iran is developing chemical weapons and that the transporting [of chemicals] to Ahwaz four years ago was for the purposes of burying the waste from their manufacture.”

    The organization claimed that six months ago, the IRGC had obtained a sophisticated Chinese radar system (originally called Rakib) and had installed it at the Al-Hamidiyya bases,…

    OH YEH. China and their lead toys is one of the several companies $$$ producing the swine vaccine for Americans. That’s a nice way to pay our debt.

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