A new assessment by American intelligence agencies concludes that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that the program remains on hold, contradicting an assessment two years ago that Tehran was working inexorably toward building a bomb.
The conclusions of the new assessment are likely to be major factor in the tense international negotiations aimed at getting Iran to halt its nuclear energy program. Concerns about Iran were raised sharply after President Bush had suggested in October that a nuclear-armed Iran could lead to “World War III,” and Vice President Dick Cheney promised “serious consequences” if the government in Tehran did not abandon its nuclear program.
The finding also come in the middle of a presidential campaign during which a possible military strike against Iran’s nuclear program has been discussed. The assessment, a National Intelligence Estimate that represents the consensus view of all 16 American spy agencies, states that Tehran’s ultimate intentions about gaining a nuclear weapon remain unclear, but that Iran’s “decisions are guided by a cost-benefit approach rather than a rush to a weapon irrespective of the political, economic and military costs.”
“Some combination of threats of intensified international scrutiny and pressures, along with opportunities for Iran to achieve its security, prestige, and goals for regional influence in other ways might – if perceived by Iran’s leaders as credible – prompt Tehran to extend the current halt to its nuclear weapons program,” the estimate states.
I have always believed the Iran scare was mostly a red herring by the cynical Bush Administration (not the Cheney cabal however) to take the focus off of IRaq and and that the only way there would be war with Iran would be if a pretext was concocted via the Iraq Debacle. I think that is more true than ever.
Thus, being firm on the Kyl Lieberman is admirable but being firm on NOT funding the Iraq Debacle is MUCH MORE important. It is one of the principal reasons I am displeased with Senator Jim Webb’s actions on these issues.