Iran ended nuke program years ago

Iran halted its secret effort to develop a nuclear weapon four years ago and doesn’t appear to have restarted the project, a comprehensive new U.S. intelligence report said Monday.

Iran’s decision to stop the program in mid-2003 indicates that it’s “less determined” to acquire nuclear weapons and “more vulnerable” to international pressure than U.S. intelligence agencies had previously believed, the U.S. intelligence community said.

The long-awaited National Intelligence Estimate, however, warned that the Islamic regime could resume its nuclear effort and “has the scientific, technical and industrial capabilities to eventually produce nuclear weapons if it decides to do so.”

Nevertheless, the NIE is a stunning reversal of the main conclusion of a 2005 estimate— that Iran’s theocratic rulers were “determined” to develop nuclear weapons despite threats of sanctions and international isolation.

The declassified key judgments also undermine both President Bush ‘s Oct. 17 warning that Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons could “ignite World War III” and his administration’s drive for tougher international sanctions against Iran . In addition, they deal another blow to the administration’s credibility and influence, already battered by its use of bogus and exaggerated intelligence to justify its 2003 invasion of Iraq .

“I think there is going to be a tendency for a lot of people to say: `Whoop! The problem’s less bad than we thought,'” White House National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley conceded Monday.

Hadley said that Bush was briefed on the NIE’s conclusions last Wednesday. But he appeared to acknowledge that U.S. intelligence agencies already had concluded that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program when Bush told a news conference that Tehran’s quest for a nuclear arsenal could trigger a third world war.

“He (Bush) would have made that, I believe, that comment after” the new intelligence was known, Hadley told reporters.

Senior U.S. intelligence officials said the judgment that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program in mid-2003 emerged four to six months ago as a result of fresh intelligence, some of it from open sources and some from a “very rigorous scrub” of 20 years of information, some of which informed the 2005 NIE.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said the analysts who drafted the report also had applied lessons learned from an erroneous 2002 NIE on Iraq .

“We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program; we also assess with moderate to high confidence that Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons,” said the NIE, titled ” Iran : Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities.”

The report said that Iran’s decision to halt its nuclear weapons program suggested that “it is less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005. Our assessment that the program probably was halted primarily in response to international pressure suggests that Iran may be more vulnerable to influence on the issue than we judged previously.”

Those pressures included threats of U.N. sanctions, the U.S. invasion of Iraq , the unveiling of the A.Q. Khan network and Libya’s admission that it was trying to develop a nuclear weapon, the senior intelligence officials said.

An NIE represents the consensus of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies and is written by the National Intelligence Council , the intelligence community’s highest analytical body.

It said that because of unidentified “intelligence gaps,” U.S. intelligence agencies and the Department of Energy assessed with “moderate confidence” that Iran “had not restarted its nuclear weapons program as of mid-2007.”

“We do not know whether it currently intends to develop nuclear weapons,” the key judgments continued. “We continue to assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Iran does not currently have a nuclear weapon” even though “we cannot rule out that Iran has acquired from abroad— or will acquire in the future— a nuclear weapon or enough fissile material for a weapon.”

The NIE said that Iran appears to be having problems with its uranium enrichment program and probably won’t be capable of producing highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon before 2010. The State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research dissented from that view and estimated that Iran won’t be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium to make a weapon before 2013.

Iran , which hid its uranium enrichment program from International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors for 18 years, has denied repeatedly that it’s seeking a nuclear arsenal.

Only last summer did it begin answering key IAEA questions about the history of its uranium enrichment program and the purchases of technology and know-how, including weapons-related materials, from the smuggling ring led by A.Q. Khan, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program.

Hadley indicated that the administration would try to use the finding that Iran appears vulnerable to international influence to win Russian and Chinese support for a third round of U.N. sanctions. “The international community has to turn up the pressure on Iran ,” he said.

The Democratic-controlled Congress ordered the production of the NIE amid concerns that the Bush administration was hyping the threat as it had in Iraq .

The report was to have been completed last spring, but senior intelligence officials had said they wouldn’t declassify the key judgments. Administration officials held internal discussions about whether or not to release unclassified portions of the intelligence estimate, said a State Department official familiar with the issue.

In the end, said the official, it was decided that if the unclassified summary wasn’t made public, that would increase the chances that classified parts of the document might leak. If that were to happen, the administration would be accused of suppressing intelligence that found that Iran’s nuclear program wasn’t as immediate a threat as the White House had suggested.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly.

( Warren P. Strobel contributed.)


  1. Paolo

    The NIE is right, sort of, in saying Iran “discontinued” its “nuclear weapons program” in 2003. Actually, they never had a nuclear weapons program; this is all neocon hyperventilation.

    I’m not sure how or why this NIE got released; it may be the intelligence agencies are tired of being played for fools, as happened in the run up to war with Iraq.

    Bush is trying to spin this to convince us that Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons program can be revived at a moment’s notice. The creep is hot for this next war; it’s up to us to throw cold water on his feverish dreams.

  2. SEAL

    WOW! Two weeks in the hospital and I come home to Bush being proved (once again) a double damn liar about WMD – this time in Iran, Honest gay men going public to establish our restroom senator, Mr Craig, a double damn liar about his sexual orientation, and our national pollsters essentially declaring Hillary Clinton the next president of the U.S. Oddly, it is the gay senator that is receiving the most attention.

    However, it took me a while after returning to my castle to find all this out because My trusty old computer told me I had no Internet connection. That turned out not to be true – I had no computer. Instead of me it was the computer that died this time. This is hard to understand because the puter is/was only 13 years old and I am 68. But my wonderful 19 year old son saved me for the second time in two weeks. If he hadn’t understood how bad I was and not waited for the paramedics, instead throwing me in the suburban and setting a land speed record to the ER, I would not be typing this now. I have pnuemonia and was at the point where I could not breathe at all. The doctors said he and Mom saved my life.

    Also, I was having a very bad reaction to the new Chemo drugs they had started me on which is a whole other set of life threatening problems. I was one really sick puppy. But, through the magic of Moffitt Cancer center and hospital, I am home and breathing well again with the aid of this here oxygen machine. But back to the second time my son saved me, he just yanked that old Dell out from under my desk and went to the store, returning with this really pretty jet propelled space age 21 inch wide flat screened bunch of computer and had me hooked up and back on line in less than two hours. I love that boy.

    I have to ask why there have been so many comments about the senator Craig affair. While some of them have been right on target and perfectly worded, are we not playing right into the shallow world of useless media BS by even recognizing this as worth anyones concern. Shouldn’t we be directing our abilities towards another of Bush’s attempts to con the people into more of his criminal bloodshed just so his family can enhance their fortunes of war? Why isn’t this man and his henchmen clapped in Irons and being led to the gallows? They are without a doubt the worst collection of war criminals since the Hitler led Nazis. Isn’t this where our efforts should be directed? We are a very smart and savvy group of people. Let’s go after the bad guys. The ones that aren’t gay.

  3. Carl Nemo

    Yo SEAL,

    Glad to hear yur still tick’n and kick’n…!:) I was getting a bit concerned since I hadn’t seen any posts from you for a while.

    Nemo **==

  4. Sandra Price

    Bingo SEAL! You and I see this mess clearly! It must be our advanced age creeping up on our fellow bloggers. I am concerned with your health as I know from experience that after 65, we do not heal quickly as we did in the younger days. It will take more rest, better choice of foods, and sunshine, if possible, for the Vitamin D.

    I wonder if this new report could have been held back by the White House much longer. We need to make this a campaign issue of honesty. But will we? Will the Media put Craig’s story over the Intelligence Information just to please the listeners/watchers?

    Get back on your feet and watch your health carefully. Hug your family, they sound perfect!

  5. kiki

    Welcome back Seal! I’ve missed your insightful comments. Please take care of yourself. You’re a valuable addition to this board.

    Here’s my take on the NIE statements:
    Darth Cheney and Dubya are obviously furious to have their causis belli on Iran spoiled. They are petulant tyrants who play at “war” with real soldiers ( as opposed to children with plastic toys).

    The neocons won’t be denied. I predict a “false flag” attack on Israel designed to appear that it came from Iran. This will give them all the “excuse” they need to start the war they want; the NIE be d@mned.

    I fervently hope I’m incorrect about this. But having seen the way this dictatorship works for the past seven years, I wouldn’t be surprised.

  6. bryan mcclellan

    Welcome back to the fight Seal,as you can see the disinformation highway has been repaved in your absence.I just awoke from a rovian induced coma brought on by his assertion that Congress is the real warmonger in all of this.Isn’t it the job of the FCC to police truth in broadcasting?Now the revelation on Irani nukes and it’s spun before it’s leaked.Seems it’s only a matter of time before the big roundup of all the intellectuals and the establishment of our fate by the NWO…. Stay well,the good news is all this crap keeps the heart a pumpin..

  7. Sandra Price

    Bush just announced that this new information will not stop his plan to invade Iran, if necessary. Our President is showing signs of mania that somehow the congress will have to deal with. Many online Conservatives want that Iran war to start immediately and will have to say goodbye to any hope of a Republican government. The whole damn GOP has gone crazy!!!

    These Conservatives will not admit it is a war based on the potential destruction of Israel. It seems to me, Israel is better armed than we are and should act on their own. Our holidays could turn into a disaster as punishment from the White House. I get the impression this Bush 43 will not go silently into the good retirement night.

  8. Pablo

    Looks like

    I’m not the only one who has appreciated your insights, Seal. I’ll be sending some positive energy your way, hoping you win your battle. Get well!

    Regarding the topic, I hope this declassified information also leads to people waking up to hillary’s scary side–she has been spouting off the same misinformation regarding Iran as bush and cheney. She was with them on Iraq and she has been with them on Iran, just drooling to help out her weapons-manufacturing constituents. I’m so puzzled as to why she is a frontrunner when the country supposedly is so tired of war. Most are asleep at the wheel and don’t even know who that Kucinich guy (the peace candidate) is. Guess he’s not tall enough for them or just that they only pay attention if the press pays attention. How do we get them to wake up?

  9. Pablo

    I certainly hope Israel doesn’t act on their own…again. War and violence is definitely not the answer. I don’t believe for a moment that Iran, if it had a nuke, would bomb Israel for two reasons. First, Israel probably has enough bombs to destroy the planet, so bombing them would be a death warrant to themselves. Secondly, Iran has always been concerned with the plight of the Palestinians: I highly doubt they would nuke Israel and also kill the Palestinians. Iran a big threat? Personally, I don’t think so. Perhaps Israel should start being nice and start respecting human rights, then they wouldn’t have to go around nervously watching their backs.

  10. SEAL

    Pablo, I’m just as dumbfounded as you about the false image Hillary has been able to masquerade under. It appears that people won’t consider she could be “that” way simply because she is a woman and women don’t like war, they like to negotiate and settle disagreements by arbitration.

    That may be true of the majority of women but, as you pointed out, Hillary has consistantly supported the BushCo aggression plans. The astute observer will see little difference between her and the current warmongers in control. The only difference between her and Bush is her photo-ops will include children and young mothers while Bush always trys for some version of “here he comes to kick butt and save the day!” There is no doubt that he wants to exit his presidency as the great poobah who saved the world.

    The reality is that Bush may do something really stupid unless congress slaps some controls on him. Some of those republican senators are going to have to break ranks for the good of the nation. I believe they will not allow Bush to start another conflict and I don’t think Isreal is stupid enough to instigate any conflict with Iran.

    What I see happening is Bush being replaced by Hillary Clinton who will be serving the same masters. Therefore, we will have a continuation of our occupation 0f Iraq and the MIC rule. However, Hillary will do a much better job of it than the two lunatics that belong in the puzzle place have done.