Fact-Based Intelligence Prevails on Nukes and Iran

Linked with Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity VIPS.

Published on Media with Conscience, by Ray McGovern, December 25, 2007.

For those who have doubts about miracles, a double one occurred today. An honest National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran’s nuclear program has been issued and its Key Judgments were made public. With redraft after redraft, it was what the Germans call eine schwere Geburt, a difficult birth, ten months in gestation.

I do not know how often Vice President Dick Cheney visited CIA Headquarters during the gestation period, but I am told he voiced his displeasure as soon as he saw the first sonogram/draft very early this year, and is so displeased with what issued that he has refused to be the godfather.

This time Cheney and his neo-con colleagues were unable to abort the process. And after delivery to the press, this child is going to be very hard to explain – the more so since it is legitimate.

The main points of the NIE:

  • We judge that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program…
  • We assess with moderate confidence Tehran has not restarted its nuclear weapons program as of mid-2007.
  • We do not have sufficient intelligence to judge confidently whether Tehran is willing to maintain the halt of its nuclear weapons program indefinitely…
  • We judge with moderate confidence Iran probably would be technically capable of producing enough highly enriched uranium sometime during the 2010-2015 time frame.
  • We judge with high confidence that Iran will not be technically capable of producing and reprocessing enough plutonium for a weapon before about 2015.

Having reached these conclusions, it is not surprising that the NIE’s authors make a point of saying up front (in bold type) This NIE does not (italics in original) assume that Iran intends to acquire nuclear weapons. This, of course, pulls out the rug from under Cheney’s claim of a fairly robust new nuclear program in Iran, and President Bush’s inaccurate assertion that Iranian leaders have even admitted they are developing nuclear weapons …

… Will President George W. Bush and our domesticated media succeed in dismissing this latest NIE as guesswork, as he has in the past? It is going to be highly interesting to see how the White House will try to spin this one. (full text).

(Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour. During his 27-year career as a CIA analyst, he chaired National Intelligence Estimates and produced/briefed the President’s Daily Brief. He is now on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity VIPS.)


Jon Mendelsohn and the Secret Tape, Nov. 29, 2007;
Folly of nuke waste transport plan, Oct. 13, 2007;
Student Tasered for Armed Madhouse Question to Kerry, Sept. 18, 2007;
Conflict over resources in West Bank, Sept. 16, 2007;
TRANSCRIPT: Bush Addresses Iraq, Sept. 13, 2007.

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