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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Bomb bomb bomb Iran!

Stopping Iran: Why the Case for Military Action Still Stands
Norman Podhoretz

Up until a fairly short time ago, scarcely anyone dissented from the assessment offered with “high confidence” by the National Intelligence Estimate [NIE] of 2005 that Iran was “determined to develop nuclear weapons.” Correlatively, no one believed the protestations of the mullahs ruling Iran that their nuclear program was designed strictly for peaceful uses.

The reason for this near-universal consensus was that Iran, with its vast reserves of oil and natural gas, had no need for nuclear energy, and that in any case, the very nature of its program contradicted the protestations.

Here is how Time magazine put it as early as March 2003—long before, be it noted, the radical Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had replaced the putatively moderate Mohamed Khatami as president:

On a visit last month to Tehran, International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] director Mohamed ElBaradei announced he had discovered that Iran was constructing a facility to enrich uranium—a key component of advanced nuclear weapons—near Natanz. But diplomatic sources tell Time the plant is much further along than previously revealed. The sources say work on the plant is “extremely advanced” and involves “hundreds” of gas centrifuges ready to produce enriched uranium and “the parts for a thousand others ready to be assembled.”

So, too, the Federation of American Scientists about a year later:

It is generally believed that Iran’s efforts are focused on uranium enrichment, though there are some indications of work on a parallel plutonium effort. Iran claims it is trying to establish a complete nuclear-fuel cycle to support a civilian energy program, but this same fuel cycle would be applicable to a nuclear-weapons development program. Iran appears to have spread their nuclear activities around a number of sites to reduce the risk of detection or attack.

And just as everyone agreed with the American intelligence community that Iran was “determined to develop nuclear weapons,” everyone also agreed with President George W. Bush that it must not be permitted to succeed. Here, the reasons were many and various...



1 Among the principal authors of the new NIE, an editorial in the Wall Street Journal reported, were “three former State Department officials with previous reputations as ‘hyper-partisan anti-Bush officials,’ according to an intelligence source.” Even without knowing this, a careful reader of the new NIE summary could easily tell that it had been written by opponents of the military option who, moreover, were not so sure that Iran was all that dangerous.

2 It is worth noting that a number of Israeli experts—including Ephraim Halevy, the former (and very dovish) director of the Mossad—were convinced that the halt had lasted only about two years, that the program had been resumed, probably in 2005, and that it was still up and running.

3 That negotiation was merely a tactic used by Iran to buy time was not idle speculation. As we learn from Richelson: “Iranian nuclear negotiator Hassan Rouhani told his nation’s Supreme Cultural Revolution Council in September 2005 that Iran, in dealing with the IAEA, had agreed to suspend activities only in areas where it was not experiencing technical problems, and that the Isfahan uranium-conversion facility was completed while negotiating with the [European Union]. Rouhan informed the council that ‘while we were talking with the Europeans in Tehran, we were installing equipment in parts of the facility. . . . [B]y creating a calm environment, we were able to complete the work.’”

4 A typically conspiratorial version of this view, circulating through the Middle East, holds that Bush actually arranged for the new NIE, as a cover for capitulating to Iran. Evidently acting on this interpretation, the Sunni regimes (including Saudi Arabia and Egypt) that were expected by Condoleezza Rice to form a coalition against Shiite Iran once the U.S. got the “peace process” going between Israel and the Palestinians (hence the meeting she arranged at Annapolis) have instead been scrambling in various ways to come to terms with Tehran. As Gerald Steinberg of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs pointed out: “Within two weeks following publication of the NIE report, . . . Egypt moved to improve relations with Iran.” What was even more extraordinary, “Saudi Arabia welcomed Iranian President Ahmadinejad to Mecca.” The effects of the NIE were also manifest in China, which “signed a major contract on energy development and supply with Iran,” as well as in Russia, which, after stalling on a long-promised delivery, “quickly dispatched two shipments of nuclear fuel for the Bushehr nuclear reactor.”


Anonymous said...

Iran does need nuclear energy which is why the US encouraged and supported Iran's nuclear program in the first place.