The 2007 National Intelligence Estimate on Iranian Nuclear Weapons

Assessment B of the November 2007 NIE clearly states (capitalization added for emphasis): “WE CANNOT RULE OUT that IRAN HAS ACQUIRED FROM ABROAD – or will acquire in the future – A NUCLEAR WEAPON or enough fissile material for a weapon.”

By Sean Osborne, Associate Director, Military Affairs

5 December 2007 After careful analysis most recent unclassified version of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iranian Nuclear Weapons (NIE)submitted to the administration in November, titled “Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities,” I have made the following assessments:

I can only estimate that this NEI had within its estimation process certain political motivations which garnered more weight than real-world collected intelligence.

This NIE’s “Key Judgements” are a gift to the 2008 Democrat presidential candidates in that they repudiate the continuing intelligence estimates on Iranian nuclear weapons ambitions during the Bush Administration.

This NIE had significant problems well before it went to the government printing office and it will now be assailed mercilessly as a result of those problems.

Let’s look at what places meat on the bare bones assessments I made yesterday.

Political Motivations

The Wall Street Journal printed a editorial which corroborates my first assessment above. Specifically the editorial stated:

-the NIE’s main authors include three former State Department officials with previous reputations as “hyper-partisan anti-Bush officials,” according to an intelligence source. They are Tom Fingar, formerly of the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research; Vann Van Diepen, the National Intelligence Officer for WMD; and Kenneth Brill, the former U.S. Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).”

Political motivations – check.

Repudiating Previous NIEs on Iranian nuclear weapons

The WeeklyStandard also references the above WSJ OpEd and also makes a very strong point in quoting Thomas Fingar’s statement of July 11, 2007:

Iran and North Korea are the states of most concern to us. The United States’ concerns about Iran are shared by many nations, including many of Iran’s neighbors. Iran is continuing to pursue uranium enrichment and has shown more interest in protracting negotiations and working to delay and diminish the impact of UNSC sanctions than in reaching an acceptable diplomatic solution. We assess that Tehran is determined to develop nuclear weapons–despite its international obligations and international pressure. This is a grave concern to the other countries in the region whose security would be threatened should Iran acquire nuclear weapons.

Besides the obvious mother of all acrobatic flip-flops by Thomas Fingar, there is one other item I assess to be crucial with respect to any potential temporary Iranian cessation of its nuclear weapons program in 2003.

North Korea.

Iran was a participant and funding partner in North Korean nuclear weapons and delivery systems development. Whatever nuclear weapons projects went on hiatus in Iran during 2003, there were other certainly active weapons research projects occurring in North Korea during this same time period. Additionally there were several reports that Iranian delegations were in the DPRK during the limited-yield nuclear test conducted on October 9, 2006. Nothing like seeing first-hand what yield your investments have earned.

The inherent problems of this NIE are being duly assailed. And it almost goes without mention in the spinning out-of-control MSM that this fatally-flawed NIE states categorically that Iran did and probably still does have a clandestine nuclear weapons program.

Again, this unclassified version of the NIE is one thing. The key judgments which are within the classified version might tell a different story entirely.

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