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Iran: Order out of Chaos

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Intelligence assessment of the Iran situation from Swoop:

In our advance discussions of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran we anticipated it would conclude that Iran was not close to obtaining a nuclear weapon. Now that it has been released, the NIE’s conclusion that in 2003 Iran “halted its nuclear weapons program” has transformed the debate in Washington and has complicated the Administration’s efforts to maintain international support for its policy. European officials have complained that they were “blindsided” by the release. Bush has stated that he will not change his approach and his top advisers highlight the continuing US demand that the Iranians cease their uranium enrichment activities. Nonetheless, our sense is that, barring an accident involving US and Iranian forces in Iraq or the Gulf, this development has further reduced the already small prospects of a US military attack. Given that our judgment has been that the White House has backed away from the military option, the report may help Bush by enhancing the case for diplomacy.  The timing of the release has sparked intense speculation in Washington, particularly because, as we have recorded earlier, objections from officials associated with Vice-President Cheney delayed publication for over two months. Conservative commentators have been quick to denounce the conclusions and to draw attention to the much fiercer Israeli assessment. They are intensifying their attacks on the Intelligence Community – which may prompt Admiral Mike McConnell, the Director of National Intelligence, who has told Bush of his wish to retire, to take that action. If US military action is now much less likely, attention will switch to Israel. Our Pentagon contacts do not see Israeli action as an imminent possibility. Any Israeli attack would have to be coordinated with the US.

Irancove @ December 8, 2007

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