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Friday, February 13, 2009

Iran and Nuclear Weapons

There I was, happy in the knowledge that the US Intelligence Community (the IC) was certain that Iran was not in the pursuit of a nuclear weapon.

Now comes the Los Angeles Times with a report that says the US IC actually thinks Iran is in pursuit of nuclear weapons.

That can't be right, can it? Here we were living in dread of the Bush Administration doing something dreadful to Iran to prevent it from gaining nuclear weapons. The December 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) relieved us of our fears, although maybe not the Israelis. The Key Judgements of the NIE are here. The New York Times article declaring the Bush Administration Policy to be over is located here. The headline that Daily Kos used was "Oh... Nevermind.

Now I am not sure what to think. Greg Miller, writing in the LA Times says:
Little more than a year after U.S. spy agencies concluded that Iran had halted work on a nuclear weapon, the Obama administration has made it clear that it believes there is no question that Tehran is seeking the bomb.

In his news conference this week, President Obama went so far as to describe Iran's "development of a nuclear weapon" before correcting himself to refer to its "pursuit" of weapons capability.

Obama's nominee to serve as CIA director, Leon E. Panetta, left little doubt about his view last week when he testified on Capitol Hill. "From all the information I've seen," Panetta said, "I think there is no question that they are seeking that capability."
The closest The Globe has come to touching on this is this Friday the 13th article on the US using the missile defense system in Europe as a bargaining chip to get Russia to work to turn off Iran's nuclear program.

My check of The Boston Globe has this 15 January article that has this from outgoing CIA Director Michael Hayden:
The possibility of an Iranian warhead is on a list of 10 potential problems that Hayden says his successor should keep watch on over the next 12 months.
Frankly, if one is planning for the long run it doesn't make much difference if their first weapon is available in 2009 or 2019. Is there anyone who thought it really wasn't going to happen? And, is there anyone who thinks that when it happens it won't result in other Middle Eastern nations (Israel aside) seeking the same capability. The only surprise would be if Israel extended its nuclear umbrella to Saudi Arabia and Saudi Arabia accepted.

A hat tip to TigerHawk and to Instapundit.

Regards  --  Cliff

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