Powered by WebAds

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Looking past the NIE: Where Iran will go from here

At Middle East Strategy at Harvard, Stephen Peter Rosen has a scary assessment of where Iran - and the rest of the world - are likely headed from this past week's new National Intelligence Estimate on Iran:

In my view, the Iran program halted in 2003 because of the massive and initially successful American use of military power in Iraq. The United States offered no “carrots” to Iran, but only wielded an enormous stick. This increased the Iranians’ desire to minimize the risks to themselves, and so they halted programs that could unambiguously be identified as a nuclear weapons program. They were guarding themselves against the exposure of a weapons program by US or Israeli clandestine intelligence collection, and were not trying to signal the United States that they were looking to negotiate. They did not publicly announce this halt because if they did so, they would be perceived as weak within Iran, and within the region. By continuing the enrichment program, they kept the weapon option open.

If this is true, the Iranian government responds to imminent threats of force, not economic sanctions or diplomatic concessions. If that is the case, as the threat of US use of force goes down, the likelihood that Iran restarts its program goes up. Since the threat of US use of force went down in 2007, it is likely that the program restarted in that time frame. The threat of Israeli use of force, however, remained high, and went up after the attack on Syria. The NIE, however, ensured that there would be no US or Israeli use of force for the foreseeable future. So the prediction is that warhead production activity has restarted, and will produce a useable gun-type design quickly. Given observable uranium enrichment activity, enough uranium will be available for one bomb in one year. It does not makes sense for a country to test its first and only weapon when it has none in reserve to deter attacks. So the first test is not likely before two years from now or late 2009.

Read the whole thing.

By the way, Middle East Strategy at Harvard is a new site that was launched this week. The home page is here. You may want to bookmark it.


At 2:22 AM, Blogger hass said...

There's no actual evidence that there ever was a nuclear weapons program in Iran - not now, not in 2003, not ever.

There's no more reason to believe this NIE than there was to believe the previous NIE. Who knows what the next NIE will say.

Finding secret nuclear weapons programs is the job of the IAEA, which has stated repeatedly that it has not found any such evidence.
That's the bottom line. The NIE is just some more spin by the Bush administration which wants to explain away the absence of evidence (by claiming that the once-existing weapons program was "halted" as a result of US policies) and yet still scaremonger about IRan's potential to make nukes in the future.

At 3:09 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

What distinguishes the IAEA from a Muslim front organization?


Post a Comment

<< Home