December 3, 2007


U.S. report says Iran halted nuclear weapons program in 2003 (Mark Mazzetti, December 3, 2007, IHT)

A new assessment by U.S. 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 conclusions of the new assessment are likely to be explosive in the middle of tense international negotiations aimed at getting Iran to halt its nuclear energy program, and in the middle of a presidential campaign during which a possible military strike against Iran's nuclear program has been discussed.

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."

The determining factor is whether the Guardian or the President is in ultimate control of the program.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 3, 2007 1:05 PM

1. Saddam Hussein's weapons programs were also "on hold"; that doesn't mean he wasn't going to start it back up the second we looked the other way.

2. Aren't these the same spy organizations who were completely surprised about India getting the bomb, Pakistan getting the bomb, etc.? All this says is that Iran getting the bomb would just be another big surprise.

3. To be blunt, wouldn't Democrats in these intelligence agencies have an interest in claiming that Iran wasn't building nuclear weapons, to prevent Bush from doing something about it?

Posted by: Just John at December 3, 2007 1:22 PM

Hmmm, 2003. My memory is a tad shaky, but I seem to remember something big happening near Iran in that year. I think it may have had to do with weapons programs...

Posted by: Burnham at December 3, 2007 3:58 PM

Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson wrote the report.

Posted by: AWW at December 3, 2007 4:01 PM

John - wouldn't Democrats in these intelligence agencies have an interest in claiming that Iran wasn't building nuclear weapons, to prevent Bush from doing something about it?


Lost in all the fuss about WMD or lack thereof in Iraq is an analysis of who in those 16 US intelligence agencies benefited from painting a big bullseye on Saddam's back from 1992-1999, and how they might have unwound that position once someone serious about regime change became President.

Posted by: Chris B at December 3, 2007 4:29 PM

Doesn't this report also make Ahmedinejad look very bad? I mean, he's been playing up a nuclear program as evidence of Iran's willingness to stand up to the US. Now it looks entirely like Iran folded as soon as the US showed it was serious about stopping Saddam's program.

Posted by: Brandon at December 3, 2007 4:39 PM

I'm really confused about what to believe. This website had me finally convinced that our intelligence agencies are incompetent and usually wrong.

Posted by: Rick T. at December 3, 2007 4:52 PM

OJ is an admitted cherry-picker, Rick T.

Shameless about it actually.

Posted by: Benny at December 3, 2007 5:14 PM

In Mayday, Michael Beschloss writes about the implicit deal between Khruschev and Ike, the latter wouldn't reveal to the world how feeble the USSR was if the former boasted without actually building up. Airheads like JFK and cynics like LBJ took political advantage of the President's refusal to reveal the real state of things, but he got to keep the situation calm.

The same situation has existed recently, but the Administration appears to feel that humiliating Mahmoud could drive him out the door.

Posted by: oj at December 3, 2007 5:42 PM


Yes, Iran has a similar WMD program to his.

Posted by: oj at December 3, 2007 5:44 PM


Why do you think it took them so long to figure this out?

Posted by: oj at December 4, 2007 12:13 AM

No need to continue the weapons program until you have sufficient enriched uranium.

The 3000 centriguges haven't slowed down. And that plant on the Iran/Iraq/Syrian border that Israel struck wasn't manufacturing baby aspirin.

But it's good to see that there are those who figure they can make it through to a pension before the piper must be paid.

Posted by: molon labe at December 4, 2007 8:47 AM


Why should I believe they've figured it out, given past history?

Posted by: Rick T. at December 4, 2007 8:58 AM

You should believe their weapons program is exactly as advanced as other regimes have been. In other words, ackbasswards.

Posted by: oj at December 4, 2007 11:35 AM

The flimsier the pretext, the greater the didactic effect.

Posted by: Lou Gots at December 4, 2007 5:28 PM

Does the NIE happen to mention WHICH program they supposedly stopped in 2003?

Posted by: ratbert at December 4, 2007 6:28 PM

If there actually is a consensus among every American spy agency about the nonexistence of Iranian nukes, then there is only one logical conclusion: The Iranians have nuclear weapons ready to detonate in every major American city (plus Omaha, thanks to USSTRATCOM).

Thankfully, the "consensus" is also surely a mirage.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at December 5, 2007 12:04 AM