Melanie Phillips dumps on a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) report that guesses Iran stopped its attempt to produce nuclear weapons in 2003. Israel doesn't believe the report and others suggest it might reflect a deal done with Iran whereby the US agrees not to bomb it provided Iran stops assistance for terrorism in Iraq. This type of deal leaves Israel out in the cold completely.
Nor does the International Atomic Energy Agency agree completely with the report.
Indeed, the NIE report itself offers only a qualified view: ‘Iran's civilian uranium enrichment program is continuing.’ Such a ‘civilian’ program could be converted speedily and stealthily to military use. As the new NIE notes, ‘Iran has the scientific, technical, and industrial capacity to produce nuclear weapons if it decides to do so.’
Iran is laughing – Mahmoud is declaring a ‘great victory’. It is a propaganda victory that builds on the back of the WMD fiasco and subsequent US problems in Iraq. It is foolish to believe that an agency, which has provided flawed intelligence in the past, has got it right this time.
Moreover, the report's qualifications about Iran’s ability to switch to pursuing a nuclear option should be kept in mind. President Bush and International Atomic Energy Agency director-general Mohamed ElBaradei have been cautious and have urged Iran to clarify its nuclear intentions further. Iran remains a threat.