December 03, 2007

WELL, THAT'S CONVENIENT: "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."

But what could have happened in 2003 that might have persuaded the Iranians to stop work on a weapon of mass destruction?

UPDATE: I just got an email with this story under the subject line "Your Zionist lies exposed." But actually I think that's a mistaken take, because I don't think this story cuts that way at all. This story lets the Bush Administration take credit for pressuring Iran into stopping its weapons program by invading Iraq -- meaning that the invasion really did end a major WMD threat -- and also punt further serious action on the Iran issue to the next administration. Cui bono? I think it's pretty obvious. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Dan Riehl isn't comforted: "I don't find it the least bit reassuring. I can't get too excited about the NIE given the recent bombing of what's now being called a nuclear bomb factory in Syria. If those reports are accurate, it would make sense for Iran to be doing a rope-a-dope with facilities such as Natanz." Yes, given the consistent unreliability of the "intelligence community" on these matters, alarmism might be more comforting than the reverse. Note, however, that while we can't know -- no one this side of Tehran can -- whether the report is accurate, I think the Bush Administration's decision to publicize it tells us something about what the Bush Administration thinks, as noted above.

And some related thoughts from Victor Davis Hanson: "After all, what critic would wish now to grant that one result of the 2003 war-aside from the real chance that Iraq can stabilize and function under the only consensual government in the region-might have been the elimination for some time of two growing and potentially nuclear threats to American security, quite apart from Saddam Hussein?" Yet that seems plausible, now.

MORE: Further thoughts from Norman Podhoretz: "These findings are startling, not least because in key respects they represent a 180-degree turn from the conclusions of the last NIE on Iran’s nuclear program."

STILL MORE: Uh oh: "If these appalling imbeciles say that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons, then I say it's time to go long on bomb shelters." Hard to argue . . .

And Tom Maguire -- after a close analysis worth reading in full -- sees a Hillary angle: "And does it defuse criticism of Hillary's controversial support of the Kyl-Lieberman resolution branding Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization? If we have no basis for war then we don't need to worry that Hillary has given some support for it." Lucky for Hillary that the Bush Administration released this just as she got into primary trouble. . . .

Meanwhile, Shannon Love makes sense: "My cursory reading of the report suggest that Iran has just moth balled its nuke project and can restart it in short order once the heat is off. For conspiracy theorist I would point out that a lot of that heat comes from credible saber rattling and having two armies parked on either side of Iran. Keeping the pressure on Iran is exactly the right thing to do. I suspect they are waiting for a change in the winds like a democrat President or a shift in European leaders to a more pacifistic stance. They only need a window of year or two of dithering to make their nukes a fait accompli."

FINALLY: A clueless reader emails to accuse me of shilling for Bush. But, you see, the post above, read properly, suggests that the decision to release this report was politically motivated. That's not shilling. Er, unless you're clueless. Jeez.