Addressing an issue I’ve covered since President Obama took office, Los Angeles Times reporter Greg Miller noted in a recent piece the fact that the new administration’s frequent assertions that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons contradict the findings of the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate. Writes Miller:
Little more than a year after U.S. spy agencies concluded that Iran had halted work on a nuclear weapon, the Obama administration has made it clear that it believes there is no question that Tehran is seeking the bomb.
Being a rationale, science-based liberal administration, there is of course a perfectly valid reason for this conflict with the record, such as compelling new intelligence. Or not:
U.S. officials said that although no new evidence had surfaced to undercut the findings of the 2007 estimate, there was growing consensus that it provided a misleading picture and that the country was poised to reach crucial bomb-making milestones this year.
Meanwhile, here’s Director Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair continuing the Obama administration record of disregarding facts that conflict with their fear-mongering on Iran — which the head of one “non-proliferation” organization quoted in the Times spins as just commonsense pre-negotiation posturing — though Blair hedges his comments by using the term nuclear “capability”, which could conceivably extend to any civilian nuclear infrastructure (just not outside of Iran, naturally):
With Hamas controlling Gaza, Hezbollah growing stronger in Lebanon, progress on a Palestinian-Israeli accord is going to be more difficult. With Iran developing a nuclear weapon capability and with Israel determined not to allow it, there is potential for an Iran- Israeli confrontation or crisis. Moderate Arab states fear a nuclear- armed Iran, but without progress on the Palestine settlement, they’re harder put to defend their ties to the United States.
Later in the hearing before the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, however, Blair acknowledged the stance of the intelligence community he oversees:
The assessment that was in our 2007 National Intelligence Estimate about Iran’s nuclear weapons programs are generally still valid today. Tehran, at a minimum, is keeping open the option to develop deliverable nuclear weapons. The halt in the recent past in some aspects of the program was primarily in response to increasing international scrutiny and pressure. Some combination of threats — threats of intensified international scrutiny and pressures, along with opportunities for Iran to achieve its security goals — might prompt Tehran to extend the halt to some nuclear weapons-related activities.
Though the 2007 NIE does indeed note that Iran’s leadership may be keeping the option open to someday develop a nuclear weapon, it also states with “high confidence” that any program to do so ended more than five years ago. According to Blair, that remains the view of the intelligence community today. That means every time President Obama or Secretary of State Clinton state without any qualifications that Iran is developing or pursuing a nuclear weapon, they are misstating the view of the U.S. intelligence community. Or they’re just consciously lying.