View Full Version : Nuclear Weapons Bombshell For Bush

12-05-2007, 08:41 AM
Nuclear weapons bombshell for Bush


Tim Harper
Dec 04, 2007 04:30 AM

WASHINGTON–Iran scrapped its pursuit of a nuclear weapon four years ago, according to a declassified security document released yesterday, contradicting the bellicose rhetoric aimed at Tehran by U.S. President George W. Bush.

Just six weeks ago, Bush linked Iran's nuclear ambitions to a potential World War III, but the National Intelligence Estimate painted a picture of an Iran guided by sober cost-benefit analyses, not the wild-eyed rush to destruction often described by the White House.

Although the report says Iran has left the door open to pursue a bomb, it now estimates it is unlikely to have the wherewithal to develop such a weapon before 2015.

Critics who had been fearful that Bush and U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney were weighing military strikes on Tehran stressed yesterday's report now offers an opening for a "diplomatic surge" with the regime of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The National Intelligence Estimate represents the consensus of 16 separate American spy agencies and is provided to U.S. military and political leaders to help craft strategy or respond to perceived threats.

A full report was provided to Bush last week before a declassified version was given to U.S. legislators by Michael McConnell, the director of national intelligence.

The review, which represents a complete about-face from a 2005 report on Iran, brought memories to the fore of the botched 2002 intelligence on Iraq which led to the U.S. invasion the following spring.

It will also likely hurt U.S. efforts to convince Russia and China, who were already reluctant, to slap tough new sanctions on Iran to keep its nuclear plans in check.

"We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program," states the declassified report.

"We also assess with moderate to high confidence that Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons."

The White House put the best possible face on a potentially embarrassing report.

"On balance the estimate is good news," said Stephen Hadley, Bush's national security adviser.

"On the one hand, it confirms that we were right to be worried about Iran seeking to develop nuclear weapons. On the other hand, it tells us that we have made some progress in trying to ensure that that does not happen."

But the declassified report contradicts the White House position in virtually every area.

"Tehran's decision to halt its nuclear weapons program suggests it is less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005," it says.

"Our assessment that the program probably was halted primarily in response to international pressure suggests Iran may be more vulnerable to influence on the issue than we judged previously."

The report flatly states the agencies do not know if Tehran is prepared to put its nuclear weapons plans on hold indefinitely.

As recently as Oct. 17, Bush told a news conference that threats against Israel by Ahmadinejad must be taken seriously.

"If you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon," Bush said at the October news conference.

"I take the threat of a nuclear Iran very seriously."

Cheney warned of "serious consequences" if the government in Tehran did not abandon its nuclear program.

Challenged at a briefing, Hadley denied the Bush administration had the intelligence wrong and said the country was particularly difficult to get information on.

"They are very good at this business of keeping secrets," he said.

He reminded reporters that Iran's civilian uranium enrichment program was continuing.

"Once a country masters the technology to enrich uranium for use even in a civilian nuclear power program, it can readily use the same technology to produce weapons-grade uranium," he said.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, which was briefed on the U.S. intelligence report two hours before its release, saw the judgments as validation of its own long-standing conclusion that there is "no evidence" of an undeclared nuclear program in Iran, the Washington Post reports. Tough talk on Iran has not been limited to the White House and has spilled onto the presidential campaign trail.

On the Republican side, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney have both vowed Iran would not become a member of the nuclear club under their watch.

They have not been specific about how they would prevent that.

On the Democratic side, New York Senator Hillary Clinton was accused by her top two challengers, Illinois Senator Barack Obama and former North Carolina senator John Edwards, of helping the Bush administration rush to war in Iran.

Clinton backed a bill in September which declared Iran's Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization.

Obama criticized her, saying she was repeating her mistake of voting for war in Iraq in 2002, although he missed the Senate vote on the Iran issue.

Edwards, without mentioning Clinton, said yesterday the new estimate shows why Congress must avoid "radical steps ... which needlessly took us closer to war."

Lee Feinstein, the Clinton campaign's national security director, said the report vindicates the senator's policy of "vigorous American-led diplomacy" in dealing with Iran.

Harry Reid of Nevada, Democratic leader in the U.S. Senate, said he pushed for the release of the report to try to stop the Bush sprint to military confrontation with Tehran.

"They're pretty good at running a country up into a war," Reid said of the Bush administration. "I wanted to make sure that we didn't do the same in Iran."

The decision to release parts of the National Intelligence Estimate report publicly apparently stemmed from fears that a secret report would leak and perhaps lead to confusion, although such reports on Iraq are regularly released.

12-08-2007, 09:35 PM
What pisses me off about this is that Bush KNEW this while he was still spewing his rhetoric. Ug.

12-08-2007, 10:05 PM
What pisses me off about this is that Bush KNEW this while he was still spewing his rhetoric. Ug.


12-09-2007, 04:10 PM
What pisses me off about this is that Bush KNEW this while he was still spewing his rhetoric. Ug.
Damn right! My dad didn't have anything to say about this when I went over there this weekend.