If the 2005 NIE report was wrong when it claimed with "high confidence" that Iran had a active nuclear weapons program, why should the 2007 NIE be any more credible when it claims that Iran had a nuclear weapons program until 2003? If Iran really had a nuclear weapons program until 2003 as the new report claims, then why has the IAEA found no evidence of it? Why should we believe that Iran EVER had a nuclear weapons program at all?
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Intelligence Council prepared a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Irans nuclear program entitled, Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities.
The previous NIE report issued in 2005 stated with "high confidence" that Iran had an active and on-going nuclear weapons program - but no actual evidence of that ever turned up. So now, the 2007 NIE report disowns that claim, and instead asserts that Iran used to have a nuclear weapons program until 2003, and could decide to restart it someday.
So here's my obvious question to the Director of National Intelligence: were you lying then, or are you lying now? If you were so wrong in the last report, why should anyone believe your latest report?
I have to ask because naturally, you can't expect the media to ask these sorts of questions - no, they're far too busy acting as government propaganda mouthpieces by uncriticially promoting the new NIE report.
One wonders on what basis the latest NIE states that Iran had an active nuclear weapons program until 2003, when Iran's nuclear program at that time was still rudimentary, when the IAEA clearly stated that previously undisclosed activities by Iran had no relation to a weapons program, and when practically all of the oustanding safeguards issues have been resolved according to the IAEA report of Nov 2007 - and there is still not a single iota of evidence of a nuclear weapons program in Iran ever existing?
As I pointed out in my article for Le Monde diplomatique, it would be worthwhile to remember that despite the clandestine importation of centrifuges from Pakistan, Iran's plan to develop the uranium enrichment process was hardly a secret. For example, Iran had invited IAEA inspectors to visit Iran's uranium mines in 1996. There is no use for uranium ore except to be enriched - or, I guess, to be made into paperweights. In fact, 10 years prior to that, the discovery of uranium deposits and plans to mine uranium were all discussed on Iranian national radio with a director of Iran's Atomic Energy Agency. Iran and the IAEA had even drawn up plans whereby the IAEA was to provide technical assistance to Iran's enrichment program - but that as well as subsequent Iranian contracts with other foreign governments to build enrichment facilities in Iran fell through under US pressure (thus forcing the Iranians to go to Pakistani sources to obtain the centrifuge technology that they were fully legally entitled to have in the first place.)
What sort of a "secret nuclear weapons program" invites IAEA inspectors and announces its existence on the radio? On what basis should we simply accept the NIE's recent version of history regarding Iran's nuclear program? Why should we believe that Iran EVER had a nuclear weapons program when there is absolutely no evidence for it?
ADDENDUM: This 2007 NIE actually came out in 2006 but was kept hushed-up by the Bush administration. The 2005 NIE claimed with a "high degree of confidence" that Iran had an on-going nuclear weapons program. The following year, the NIE does a radical 180-degree turn and says that Iran does not have an active nuclear weapons program. What does that tell you about the NIEs?
Remember, back in 2005 a bipartisan Congressional inquiry said that US intelligence on Iran's nuclear program was "inadequate":
A commission due to report to President Bush this month will describe American intelligence on Iran as inadequate to allow firm judgments about Iran's weapons programs, according to people who have been briefed on the panel's work...
One person who described the panel's deliberations and conclusions characterized American intelligence on Iran as ''scandalous,'' given the importance and relative openness of the country, compared with such an extreme case as North Korea.
And that's probably the real case today, no matter what any NIE claims.
In short, the NIEs are hogwash. There is still no evidence of any nuclear weapons program in Iran; not today, not in 2003, not ever.
And if the Bush administration did have any actual evidence of a nuclear weapons program in Iran, they would be crowing on rooftops with it.