Skip to comments.IRAN: IPC Co-chair Comments on Leaked U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran
Posted on 08/04/2005 9:53:54 AM PDT by humint
Washington DCAccording to a 2 August 2005 Washington Post article, a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) projects that Iran is a decade away from manufacturing a key ingredient for a nuclear weapon, roughly doubling the previous estimate of five years, according to government sources with first-hand knowledge of the new analysis.
The intelligence estimate is contradictoryreflecting disagreement within the community. On one hand, the estimate is reassuring: Iran is alleged to be about ten years away from getting the bomb. On the other hand, the estimate is worrisome: It is the judgment of the intelligence community that, left to its own devices, Iran is determined to build nuclear weapons, according to the Washington Post article.
The intelligence estimate has been overtaken by events: The estimate fails to take into account the June 2005 Iranian elections, according to Professor Raymond Tanter, co chair of the Iran Policy Committee, a Washington-based think tank. Elections in Iran produced a consolidation of power under the Supreme Leader Khamenei and should accelerate the nuclear weapons pace by Tehran, according to Tanter.
The intelligence estimate is puzzling. Tanter said that, It is puzzling how an intelligence estimate can conclude it will be another decade before Iran is capable of building a bomb when there is evidence of clandestine enrichment cascades at Iranian secret military sites and an ability of the regime to divert natural uranium gas to centrifuges, both of which should shorten not lengthen the time to produce bomb-making fuel.
If Iran gets its hands on low-enriched uranium instead of natural uranium as feed material, or can smuggle in high-enriched uranium or plutonium, moreover, the regime could be months, not years away from a bomb, according to Tanter.
Tanter explains the discrepancy by saying the "intelligence estimate apparently overlooks evidence provided by Iranian dissident groups." Maybe the intelligence analysts remember the data provided by Iraqi dissident groups in the days leading up to the Iraq war and want to avoid repeating earlier mistakes.
"Most of the major nuclear sites that are now known to the outside world and are inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency, including the uranium enrichment site in Natanz and the heavy water facility in Arak, were revealed by Iran's main opposition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran. The NCRI enabled previously-classified information, some of which U.S. intelligence agencies probably had, to be released publicly and become part of the public record and debate," says Tanter.
The intelligence estimate apparently overlooks evidence provided by Iranian dissident groups. Tanter said that, The intelligence community has not had a good track record regarding Iran. Most of the major nuclear sites that are now known to the outside world and are inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency, including the uranium enrichment site in Natanz and the heavy water facility in Arak, were revealed by Irans main opposition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).
The intelligence estimate fails to take into account an inability of UN inspectors to monitor suspect Iranian sites. Tanter stated that, The Iranian regime denies the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), full access to the Parchin military site and any access to Lavisan II military site. Thus, there is no way for the IAEA to know for sure what is taking place at those sites. Ironically, the estimate leaks just as Iran is breaking seals on its equipment in a nuclear facility in Isfahan, in defiance of its prior agreement with the European Union, stated Tanter.
The intelligence estimate relies on wishful thinking to explain away suspicious Iranian nuclear actions. Since overestimating the likelihood that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, the intelligence community uses creative analysis and alternative theories that could explain some of the suspicious activities discovered in Iran in the past three years. Iran has said its nuclear infrastructure was built for energy production, not weapons, according to the Washington Post.
Tanter said that, The regime must be pleased to learn that American intelligence analysts are using creative methods to come up with conclusions that are in agreement with the regimes disinformation program.
If American analysts are using creative analysis to make up for lack of current, actionable intelligence from assets on the ground, it would argue for using information from Iranian dissidents to provide lead intelligence, information that can be used to verify intelligence obtained from other sources and methods, according to Tanter.
The bottom line is that if the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran were as reported, it should be viewed with great caution and legitimate skepticism, Tanter said.
Raymond Tanter is co-chair of the Iran Policy Committee (IPC), Adjunct Professor of Government at Georgetown University, former member of the National Security Council staff, and former personal representative of the Secretary of Defense to arms control talks in Europe during the Reagan-Bush administration.
The Iran Policy Committee is comprised of former officials from the White House, State Department, Pentagon, intelligence agencies, the Congress, as well as experts from think tanks and universities
Why would this info leak now? The NIE has been out for more than a month but didn't burst until a few days ago...
Imagery from August 2003 reveals large buildings inside a secure perimeter, while imagery from March 2004 shows that the buildings have been dismantled, the rubble removed, and the earth scrapedCommercial imagery acquired in March 2004 revealed that a facility at this location had been completely dismantled, with the vegetation removed and ground scraped clear.
Investigation into the site began after the publication of open source information about possible enrichment activities at the Kalaye Electric Company in Tehran. The first to name the facility publicly was the National Council for Resistance of Iran (NCRI). On February 20, 2003 they said the facility was located at Km 2.5 Ab-Ali Highway, next to Chemi Daroo Company."
Thought you might be interested...
Thanks for providing the sat photos. I shall bookmark this post for reference.
We need a real house cleaning in these agencies.
It's imposable to know how clean a house is when a we have to judge cleanliness from the curb. We can't know why the information was leaked. The regime may in fact be a decade away from acquiring a bomb, or not... Intelligence is an art not a science. What we do know however is that the leak relieved some of the international pressure on Iran...
We also know Tehran just backed down from its threat to break IAEA seals and begin uranium enrichment in direct violation of their Paris agreement. In my opinion, that suggests France told the mullahs that they would fully support sending Tehran to the UNSC if they break the Paris deal.
BTW, dont be so hard on our friends in the intel business. They work in a system where all the good that they do goes unnoticed and all the bad that happens is perceived to be their responsibility... It's difficult to imagine a more necessary but at the same time, thankless job.
It's this that must be cleared out.
It doesn't matter if you are democrat or republican, nobody within that agency should be engaged in politics.