A new assessment by American intelligence agencies concludes that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that the program remains on hold, contradicting an assessment two years ago that Tehran was working inexorably toward building a bomb.
The conclusions of the new assessment are likely to be major factor in the tense international negotiations aimed at getting Iran to halt its nuclear energy program. Concerns about Iran were raised sharply after President Bush had suggested in October that a nuclear-armed Iran could lead to “World War III,” and Vice President Dick Cheney promised “serious consequences” if the government in Tehran did not abandon its nuclear program.
The findings also come in the middle of a presidential campaign during which a possible military strike against Iran’s nuclear program has been discussed.
The assessment, a National Intelligence Estimate that represents the consensus view of all 16 American spy agencies, states that Tehran’s ultimate intentions about gaining a nuclear weapon remain unclear, but that Iran’s “decisions are guided by a cost-benefit approach rather than a rush to a weapon irrespective of the political, economic and military costs.” [complete article]
Editor’s Comment — This is a major defeat for Dick Cheney – perhaps even great enough to describe as a politically fatal blow. As Gareth Porter reported last month:
The US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran has been held up for more than a year in an effort to force the intelligence community to remove dissenting judgments on the Iranian nuclear program. The aim is to make the document more supportive of Vice President Dick Cheney’s militarily aggressive policy toward Iran, according to accounts provided by participants in the NIE process to two former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officers.
But Cheney lost — big time. The White House’s response — peppered with phrases like “positive news,” “we have made progress,” the “estimate offers grounds for hope,” a solution can be found “without the use of force” — amounts to what Cheney and his neocon supporters should regard as a strategic defeat. The intelligence community (no doubt with strong support from defense secretary Gates and his allies) has effectively kneecapped the vice president.