In “Iran and the Bomb,” Seymour Hersh writes:
Is Iran actively trying to develop nu-clear weapons? Members of the Obama Administration often talk as if this were a foregone conclusion, as did their predecessors under George W. Bush. There is a large body of evidence, however, including some of America’s most highly classified intelligence assessments, suggesting that the United States could be in danger of repeating a mistake similar to the one made with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq eight years ago––allowing anxieties about the policies of a tyrannical regime to distort our estimations of the state’s military capacities and intentions. The two most recent National Intelligence Estimates (N.I.E.s) on Iranian nuclear progress, representing the best judgment of the senior officers from all the major American intelligence agencies, have stated that there is no conclusive evidence that Iran has made any effort to build the bomb since 2003.
Despite years of covert operations inside Iran, extensive satellite imagery, and the recruitment of many Iranian intelligence assets, the United States and its allies, including Israel, have been unable to find irrefutable evidence of an ongoing hidden nuclear-weapons program in Iran, according to intelligence and diplomatic officials here and abroad. One American defense consultant told me that as yet there is “no smoking calutron,” although, like many Western government officials, he is convinced that Iran is intent on becoming a nuclear state sometime in the future.
Further into the article, Hersh writes:
The political stress between Washington and Tehran has promoted some unconventional thinking. A group of English diplomats and public oﬃcials have suggested thinking in terms of containing an Iranian bomb, and not in terms of getting rid of it. “We just don’t think the Iranians will deal with us,” a former senior adviser to the British Foreign Oﬃce told me. “We want to talk about nuclear bombs, and they talk about regional issues.” The officials at 10 Downing Street were amused by the initial optimism of the Obama Administration. “The President thought an initiative to talk about the bomb with Iran would work, and then he found it would not. And the U.S. had no Plan B.”
One of the worries is that Netanyahu “might take a pot shot” at Iran, as the former adviser put it. “Everything in London is now about containment and the notion that if the Iranians get a bomb we’ll have to live with it. I believe that the Iranians do understand the logic of nuclear deterrence, but the Israelis do not. London believes we cannot allow containment to be seen as a policy of failure”—in terms of a fallback policy for dealing with Iran. “And so we’re trying to shift the public perception of deterrence so it is seen as a good. The Brits are really concerned about the Israelis, and what they might do unilaterally.”
Hersh discusses the article on Democracy Now!
Hersh on the Arab Spring, “disaster” U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the looming crisis in Iraq: