Sunday, 24 February 2008


Above: an old drawing. Below: a new wrinkle, from yesterday's International Herald Tribune.

A National Intelligence Estimate published in early December concluded, to the surprise of many in the White House, that Iran had suspended its work on weapons design in late 2003, apparently in response to growing international pressure. That report immediately undercut President George W. Bush's effort, in his last year in office, to rally other nations to impose harsh financial sanctions on Iran for continuing to produce uranium fuel. Russia and China, both of which have deep commercial relationships with Iran, have made clear they would not go along with severe sanctions, and a watered-down set of new sanctions is now headed back to the Security Council.

U.S. allies in Europe have expressed puzzlement about the intelligence estimate, and some have suggested its timing was intended to reduce the chances that Bush could take military action against Iran's nuclear sites in coming months, a notion intelligence officials deny. In recent weeks, the director of U.S. national intelligence, Mike McConnell, told Congress he now has regrets about how the intelligence estimate was presented, saying it had failed to emphasize that Iran is moving ahead with the hardest part of any bomb project: producing the fuel. Designing a crude weapon is considered a far easier task.

More on Mike McConnell's second thoughts from Francis Sedgemore.

A short account of what he said from US News & World Report.

A New Yorker profile of Mike McConnell.

A follow up post from me here.

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