National Intelligence Estimate
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Ignored in the good times, the patterns of history could bite us yet, Kenneth Weisbrode writes.
This week's Annual Threat Assessment appearance on Capitol Hill by Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence, seemed to stand in contrast to two months ago, when the public version of a new National Intelligence Estimate on Iran blew up a policy storm with its conclusion—in spite of heated rhetoric to the contrary—that Iran had halted its work on how to design and build a nuclear warhead way back in 2003. It was as though the lyrics were much the same as in the recent past, but the tone of the music had darkened noticeably.
Al Qaeda and Iraq were the main subjects when the top leaders of the U.S. intelligence community appeared this morning on Capitol Hill to deliver their annual threat assessment to the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Though slowed by foot-dragging from Russia and China, progress is still being made toward a third United Nations Security Council resolution with additional sanctions on Iran, a well-informed senior European official said on background today.
Destroyed videotapes raise questions of accountability.
Iran's foreign minister welcomed the U.S. intelligence report released yesterday that said Iran was no longer actively pursuing a nuclear program and hadn't pursued one since 2003. The new National Intelligence Estimate report counters recent assertions by Bush administration officials. Israeli officials said they still believe Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon.
The U.S. intelligence community on Monday threw some cold water on the much-heated debate over Iran's alleged efforts to develop nuclear weapons. Iran, it turns out, may not be actively working on getting nuclear weapons—or, at least, may be years away from reaching that point. The new National Intelligence Estimate may weaken the urgency of the Bush administration's case for tough diplomatic actions against Iran and undercut the claims by some hawks who have been pressing for military strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities. It's likely to be a PR bonanza for Iran's leaders, who have been hammered by the Bush administration over the nuclear issue.