REVISION ON IRAN – AT 8:58 A.M. ET: While focusing on Massachusetts, we continue to watch other developing stories. It appears that our intelligence "community" is about to right a horrible wrong. From ace reporter Eli Lake of The Washington Times:
U.S. intelligence agencies now suspect that Iran never halted work on its nuclear arms program in 2003, as stated in a national intelligence estimate made public three years ago, U.S. officials said.
That estimate was a scandal. It did enormous damage to our efforts to stop the Iranian program, undercutting the Bush administration's major arguments. There was informed speculation that it was more a political document than a work of intelligence. There has not been an adequate inquiry into that.
Differences among analysts now focus on whether the country's supreme leader has given or will soon give orders for full-scale production of nuclear weapons.
For our own protection, we must assume the worst.
The new consensus emerging among analysts in the 16 agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence community on Iran's nuclear arms program is expected to be the highlight of a classified national intelligence estimate nearing completion that will replace the estimate issued in 2007.
The unclassified summary of the 2007 document said the U.S. intelligence community had "moderate confidence" that Iran's nuclear weapons work had halted in 2003. In a footnote, it stated that weapons development was defined as warhead design and not the enrichment of uranium, which has continued unabated contrary to the Iranian government's agreement not to develop uranium enrichment techniques outside International Atomic Energy Agency controls.
A senior U.S. military officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity last week revealed that the new argument among analysts is over Iran's decision to move forward with weaponization...
...The officer, who is knowledgeable about operational matters and intelligence on Iran, said Iran's nuclear program is well-advanced and moving toward the point at which a weapon could be built.
In the meantime, our policy toward Iran is in a state of collapse. Six major powers met on Monday to decide what to do in the face of Iranian defiance about its nuclear program. The Chinese again insulted the United States by sending a lower-level delegation than was sent by other nations. China has made it perfectly clear that it opposes further sanctions on Iran, and China has veto power in the UN Security Council, which would have to vote on those sanctions.
We have no Plan B. There wasn't much of a Plan A either.
January 19, 2010