Nuclear Iran, Reloaded

In the Reloaded version of my blog, I'll write about Iran, its nuclear program, its culture, and most importantly, myself.

Monday, December 03, 2007

NIC report

National Intelligence Council (NIC) has recently published a report (PDF) entitled "Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities". This report has found its place in the media under two different sets of titles, depending on the political orientation of the author:

There are those who want to put Bush at fault and say "Report contradicts Bush on Iran nuclear program". And there are those who want to justify Bush's stance on Iran and say: "US: Iran halted weapons program in 2003".

But what is more important is that none of them discuss the content of that report.

The first key judgment of the report is that:
We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program.
And in another paragraph it says:

A growing amount of intelligence indicates Iran was engaged in covert uranium conversion and uranium enrichment activity, but we judge that these efforts probably were halted in response to the fall 2003 halt, and that these efforts probably had not beenrestarted through at least mid-2007.
And the last paragraph of the report reads as:
We assess with high confidence that Iran has the scientific, technical and industrial capacity eventually to produce nuclear weapons if it decides to do so.
Based on such important information in the report, I am going to ask a couple of questions, the answers to which, I presume, are obvious:

1. If Iran did have a nuclear weapons' program up until 2003, and NIC is so confident about its existence (not focusing on its discontinuance), how come IAEA isn't aware of it?

2. If IAEA is aware of such past program (assuming that this claim is not like those that were discredited by IAEA), but is unable to investigate, then it should probably be because of Iran's non-cooperation. Then how come such issue is not even mentioned in the list of questions (about outstanding issues) IAEA has asked Iran? (see PDF version of the latest IAEA report)

3. If Iran "has the scientific, technical and industrial capacity eventually to produce nuclear weapons", then Iran can start a clandestine program , as soon as tomorrow, somewhere in the central salt desert, or inside Alborz mountains in the north, or underneath the Urumia lake in the west. What is the point of asking Iran to halt its uranium enrichment program for its "not yet completed" nuclear reactors?

PS. Dave at the glittering eye has also written about this report: link

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Blogger Hugo said...

Hi Amir,
keep in mind that while the IAEA has said that it is not aware of any weapons-related activity in Iran's nuclear program, it has also maintained that it is not yet able to categorically rule it out. They are waiting until they get all their questions answered and until they can conduct more inspections.
It's also possible that the Americans would have information that the IAEA doesn't have (through their own intelligence channels). Although you would think that they would share this with the IAEA at some point...

Tue Dec 04, 05:26:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Hugo said...

However, I think this report deals a pretty major blow to the Bush administration and most major politicians that have been crying wolf about Iran's alleged "weapons" program when there was no clear evidence of this, and have been politicizing the issue instead of working within the IAEA framework.

Tue Dec 04, 05:32:00 PM 2007  
Anonymous Amir said...

Hello Hugo.
Nice to hear from you again.

The latest IAEA report about Iran reads (Paragraph 41):

“There are two remaining major issues relevant to the scope and nature of Iran’s nuclear programme: Iran’s past and current centrifuge enrichment programme and the alleged studies.”

None of the two outstanding issues are suspects of a past nuclear weapons program: centrifuges are still spinning and the “alleged studies” are solely “studies”, and not a weapons program!.

You are right in that "IAEA is not yet able to categorically rule out [existence of weapons program]". But at the same time, there is no fingerprint of such program either.

The Bush admin has come up with tons of faulty intelligence about Iran's nuclear program, and none has survived the IAEA check. (e.g. stolen laptop, fled nuclear scientist, Parchin military complex allegations, etc.)

I don't see any reason as to why the United States should withheld any intel from IAEA except the obvious reason: being caught lying. :)

Wed Dec 05, 12:38:00 AM 2007  
Blogger Hugo said...

Hi Amir,

I won't argue with you on the quality (or even existence) of the intelligence the US has produced (or rather has talked about but refused to produce).

But I think the paragraph 41 in the IAEA's last report makes it clear that those two remaining issues (the enrichment program and the studies of spherically shaped uranium domes) are critical to defining the "scope and nature" of the iranian program. This means that even if no weapon has been made, this could show an intent to pursue weapons. In any case, all of this should be addressed in the next board report from the IAEA, assuming that the work plan is progressing according to schedule.

Wed Dec 05, 09:36:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Winston said...

NIE report is a sham. I am glad President Bush didn't take their bait. Iranian regime is dangerous and must be confronted now before it is late.

Fri Dec 07, 03:46:00 PM 2007  

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