"Despite Knowledge That Iran Halted Nuke Program, White House Continued To Warn Of False Threat"
The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) released today concludes that “in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program.” It adds that “Tehran had not restarted its nuclear weapons program as of mid-2007,” and the country is “less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005.”
The assessment, which relies on data collected through Oct. 31, was reportedly completed in 2006, but was blocked by administration officials who wanted it to be more in line with Vice President Cheney’s hardline views.
As The Washington Monthly’s Kevin Drum notes, the NIE’s “basic parameters were almost certainly common knowledge in the White House” at least by last year, when the document was finished. Yet even in the past two months, the administration has continued to push its faulty, inflammatory rhetoric and claim that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. Some examples:
“So I’ve told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon. I take the threat of Iran with a nuclear weapon very seriously.” [Bush, 10/17/07]
“Our country, and the entire international community, cannot stand by as a terror-supporting state fulfills its grandest ambitions. … The Iranian regime needs to know that if it stays on its present course the international community is prepared to impose serious consequences.” [Cheney, 10/21/07]
“The problem is Iran, and Iran has not stepped back from trying to pursue a nuclear weapon, and — or reprocessing and enriching uranium, which would lead to a nuclear weapon.” [White House spokeswoman Dana Perino, 10/26/07]
“We talked about Iran and the desire to work jointly to convince the Iranian regime to give up their nuclear weapons ambitions, for the sake of peace.” [Bush, 11/7/07]
“We’re in a position now, clearly, especially when we look at Iran, where it’s very, very important we succeed in our efforts, our national security efforts, to discourage the Iranians from enriching uranium and producing nuclear weapons.” [Cheney, 11/9/07]
“We are convinced that they are developing nuclear weapons.” [Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman, 11/13/07]
The White House isn’t yet ready to give up its spin. National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley will be speaking to the press at 3:15 PM EST today, and has already claimed that the NIE “confirms that we were right to be worried about Iran seeking to develop nuclear weapons.”
UPDATE: Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently said, “It would be a strategic calamity to attack Iran at this time.”