Thursday, December 06, 2007

The NIE: a purposefully mismatched headline

Atlas points us to the single most important analysis of the NIE that I've yet seen. Robert Tracinski, writing at The Intellectual Activist (subscription required), strips away the fantasy around the NIE and leaves only cold, irreducible facts.

The National Intelligence Estimate on Iran is a surprisingly short and thin document that offers nothing substantively new. It does not reveal any major new evidence about Iran's nuclear program or its intentions, nor does it even refer to the existence of such evidence...

It does not deny, for example, that Iran has obtained blueprints and technical guidance on how to build the core of a nuclear weapon and on how to mount nuclear bombs on a missile. These facts have already been admitted by Iran and acknowledged by the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency. The NIE does not deny that Iran is enriching uranium on an industrial scale, because that is also public knowledge, loudly and boastfully announced by Ahmadinejad.

...All that the new NIE does is to add a prominent statement that Iran suspended its covert enrichment program—which Iran then exchanged for an open, ostensibly civilian enrichment program. But this makes little difference; uranium enriched by a civilian program can still be diverted to make a bomb. And then the NIE adds its opinion that this relatively minor change was in response to "international pressure."

...The NIE acknowledges, for example, that it has no evidence that Iran has actually halted its entire nuclear weapons program... In other words, Iran devoted two decades and billions of dollars to developing nuclear weapons, which it needs if it's going to thwart the Great Satan—so why should it stop trying?

...The full picture of Iran's activity over the past four years is that of a dangerous power seeking to assert regional dominance and to spread its ideology of radical Islam by encouraging the aggression of an "Islamist Axis" of terrorist militias [insurgencies, the Taliban, Hamas, Hezbollah] across the greater Middle East. Yet all of this is completely evaded in the NIE's benevolent assessment of Iran's intentions.

...[The NIE] is an exercise in writing pro-Iran headlines over text that doesn't support it.

Maybe Iran's mullahs were just kidding about destroying America, the U.K. and Israel. But I wouldn't count on it.

Atlas has Tracinski's entire piece. Read it all.

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