View Full Version : Cheney: Iran Report May Hinder U.S. Policy

12-06-2007, 09:45 AM
Cheney: Iran report may hinder US policy


(Gold9472: Title should have read, "Iran Report May Hinder Cheney Policy.")

14 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) — US Vice President Dick Cheney on Wednesday acknowledged that a blockbuster US intelligence finding that Iran halted its nuclear weapons drive in 2003 may hamper diplomatic efforts to confront Tehran.

"Perhaps, but it wasn't easy to begin with," Cheney, one of the staunchest US hawks in the standoff over the Islamic republic's controversial nuclear program, told the US politics online magazine Politico.com in an interview.

"We don't get to say we only pursue those policies that are easy," he said in response to a question about the impact the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) would have on a US push for new sanctions on Iran.

His comments made Cheney the most senior US official to acknowledge directly that the document could complicate Washington's drive for a third round of UN sanctions on Iran if it refuses to stop enriching and reprocessing uranium, which can be a key step on the road to nuclear weapons.

Britain, France, and Germany have said they stand by the carrot-and-stick approach of offering Tehran diplomatic and political incentives and warning of possible sanctions if it does not bow to UN demands.

But Russia and China, veto-wielding permanent UN Security Council members, have been cool to Washington's push for another resolution, in comments since the NIE's declassified key findings became public on Monday.

Cheney's statement was striking in part because the vice president has offered some of the most hawkish comments on Iran, saying in October that there would be "serious consequences" if Tehran does not freeze uranium enrichment and reprocessing -- the same language used in the run up to the Iraq war.

"It's very important, I think - and the president clearly does - that we proceed down the road, trying to persuade Iran diplomatically to give up their efforts to enrich uranium. That has not changed," Cheney said Wednesday.

"There's nothing in the NIE that said we should not be concerned about their enrichment activities," said the vice president, who hinted that the decision to release parts of the NIE stemmed partly from a belief that they would leak.

The Bush administration wanted to be "upfront with what we knew," he said, "but "there was a general belief that we all shared that it was important to put it out -- that it was not likely to stay classified for long, anyway."

It was also important that the US government come forth "especially in light of what happened with respect to Iraq and the NIE on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq."

"This is what we know. This is the latest intelligence we have and this is what the analysis says it means and it signifies. So it was our judgment it was better just to lay those key judgments out there, publicly," he said.

In the run up to the war in Iraq, the White House drew fire from some US lawmakers for declassifying portions of the NIE on that country that helped the case for the invasion without making public some critical dissents.

Cheney's comments echoed those of principal deputy US director of national intelligence, Donald Kerr, who noted that a previous NIE had asserted in 2005 that Iran had an active nuclear weapons program.

"Since our understanding of Iran's capabilities has changed, we felt it was important to release this information to ensure that an accurate presentation is available," Kerr said in a statement.