Home inContext The Iran NIE: Questions Abound

The Iran NIE: Questions Abound

Jonathan Schanzer

Stratfor released a piece yesterday entitled “The NIE Report: Solving a Geopolitical Problem with Iran,” which raises questions about the National Intelligence Estimate asserting that Iran halted its nuclear program. “First, how did the intelligence community reach the wrong conclusion in the spring of 2005, when it last released an NIE on Iran, and what changed by 2007? Also, why did the United States reach the wrong conclusions on Iran three years after its program was halted?”

As Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute points out, “the estimate says little about whether Iran still aims to produce nuclear weapons or when it might do so. The NIE’s information supports the theory that Iran has simply changed the sequencing of its nuclear weapons effort — not necessarily the theory that Iran is no longer pursuing nuclear weapons.”

The New York Sun editorial board also reminds us of, “the problem that the intelligence estimate mentions the nuclear weapons program prior to 2003 but fails to give an indication of how advanced the weapons program was at the time.”