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New Intelligence Report Says Something, Maybe, About Iran Nukes That Nobody Can Really Agree On


First Posted: 03/28/08 03:45 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 01:20 PM ET

Okay, here we go: a newly published National Intelligence Estimate suggests that Iran "halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that the program remains on hold." This new report contradicts a report from two years ago that said...uhm, precisely the opposite. And the suggested way forward from here?

"Some combination of threats of intensified international scrutiny and pressures, along with opportunities for Iran to achieve its security, prestige, and goals for regional influence in other ways might -- if perceived by Iran's leaders as credible -- prompt Tehran to extend the current halt to its nuclear weapons program," the estimate states.

Dig that big ol' "if" in the middle of the paragraph! It's admittedly tough to find ways to put the words "Iran's leaders" and "credible" together in a single sentence. And even if it wasn't, it's hard to imagine that such a carrot-rich environment can be established with Joe Lieberman batting his eyelashes at General David Petraeus, dreaming of a military incursion into Iran.

This report comes hard on the heels of NBC's Howard Fineman reporting that the intelligence community was going to work to "slow down" the Bush administration's "current drumbeat for war with Iran." So, naturally, we get a hastily delivered missive from national security adviser Stephen Hadley that basically asserts that the new N.I.E. only reflects the fact that the administration has been right all along:

"It confirms that we were right to be worried about Iran seeking to develop nuclear weapons...It tells us that we have made progress in trying to ensure that this does not happen. But the intelligence also tells us that the risk of Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon remains a very serious problem...the estimate offers grounds for hope that the problem can be solved diplomatically -- without the use of force -- as the administration has been trying to do,"

Ha ha! Nothing to see here!

Anyway, the New York Times wants to remind you that that the "new report comes out just over five years after a deeply flawed N.I.E. concluded that Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons programs and was determined to restart its nuclear program." Which is funny, because it also comes out about five years after the New York Times published a bunch of deeply flawed reporting that concluded with us going to war with Iraq!