Despite Iran’s progress since 2007 toward producing enriched uranium, the State Department’s intelligence analysts continue to think that Tehran will not be able to produce weapons-grade material before 2013, according to a newly disclosed congressional document.
The updated assessment, by the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, emphasizes that the analysis is based on Iran’s technical capability and is not a judgment about “when Iran might make any political decision” to produce highly enriched uranium.
The intelligence community agrees that a political decision has not yet been made. According to the assessment, State Department analysts think such a decision is unlikely to be made “for at least as long as international scrutiny and pressure persist.” [continued…]
For most of the month of August, Congress will be on recess. Consider this the calm before the storm.
Most in Washington are aware that September will bring with it the biggest push for Iran sanctions in years. AIPAC has been lobbying for months on the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act (IRPSA), and on September 10 the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations will kick off a massive nationwide lobbying effort, which they compare to the “Save Darfur” movement. All of this will culminate at the end of the month when, conveniently enough, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrives in New York for the UN General Assembly.
Yes, right around the time Ahmadinejad is at the podium in the UN, Congress is expected to impose what it calls “crippling sanctions” on Iran’s economy. The plan is to blockade Iran’s foreign supplies of gasoline, hoping that an increase in the price per gallon at the pump will cause the Iranian people to rise up and demand a halt to Iran’s nuclear program.
But this plan has number of obvious flaws.
First, the Iranian people have already risen up against the government’s hardline leadership. What we have witnessed in Iran for the last two months is unprecedented. To think that marginally higher gas prices will mean anything to a population willing to risk their lives for freedom and democracy is at once naïve and hubristic. According to Juan Cole, imposing broad sanctions on Iran will likely only destroy Iranian civil society and bolster the state’s repressive apparatus–as it did in Iraq. [continued…]