A new report released by American intelligence officials profoundly contradicts President Bush’s claims on the Iran nuclear threat and casts his “World War III” fear-mongering in a dubious light. The National Intelligence Estimate’s declassified assessment, compiled from 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, says Iran actually halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 “in response to international pressure,” and that, although the country still hopes to have the capacity to produce a nuclear weapon, that potential development remains a long way off.
Read the National Intelligence Estimate’s “Key Points” summary here.
The New York Times:
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 findings 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.