But the analysis of America’s top military officer, the Secretary of Defense and the Director of National Intelligence just isn’t good enough for Christian Whiton, the Deputy Director of National Security Staff at the Newt Gingrich presidential campaign. Appearing on Fox News yesterday, Whiton falsely claimed that an International Atomic Energy Agency report from last November “says Iran is working on a nuclear weapons program,” adding that the administration “need[s] to start telling the truth about the threat [from Iran]”:
WHITON: The most important thing we need to do is start telling the truth about the threat. For Leon Panetta, the defense secretary, to go up to Congress last week and say that we know they’re working on an energy program and a uranium program but not necessarily a nuclear weapons program, that’s just wrong. The IAEA has said that is wrong. The 2007 National Intelligence Estimate that said Iran had halted its program was wrong, has been disproved. It is now viewed as misleading and politicized. So step one is telling the truth.”
But Whiton never got to “step one” himself. In fact, while the November IAEA report did express concerns about possible military dimensions to Iran’s program, it did not assert that Iran “is working on a nuclear weapons program.” Indeed, no further reports from U.S. intelligence services or the IAEA have asserted that Iran has restarted its nuclear weapons program.
The development of dual-military-civilian use technologies raises serious questions about Iran’s nuclear program, but no verifiable evidence has yet been produced to show that the Islamic Republic is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon. While Clapper said Iranians are “keeping themselves in a position to make that decision,” he also said that Iran is susceptible to sanctions and diplomacy. “We judge Iran’s nuclear decisionmaking is guided by a cost-benefit approach, which offers the international community opportunities to influence Tehran,” he said last week
Whiton, who last made headlines after the July, 2011 terrorist attack in Norway by claiming that European countries are susceptible to terrorism because they’re “neutral on the war on terror,” might want to check his facts before accusing the Secretary of Defense of lying to Congress.