NIE ON IRAN'S NUCLEAR PROGRAM: NO SLAM DUNK
In an unusual policy pirouette, the Office of the Director of National
Intelligence yesterday published the key judgments of a National
Intelligence Estimate on Iran's nuclear weapons program little more
than a month after the DNI issued guidance declaring that "It is the
policy of the Director of National Intelligence that KJs [key
judgments] should not be declassified." (Secrecy News 11/01/07).
"We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its
nuclear weapons program," the new Estimate states dramatically.
Although it goes on to assert "moderate-to-high confidence that Tehran
at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons,"
the new Estimate effectively distances the U.S. intelligence community
from those who insist that Iran is irrevocably bent on acquiring
By challenging the prejudices of the Administration rather than
reinforcing them, the NIE on Iran does what earlier estimates on Iraq
notoriously failed to do.
It also departs from the judgments of the 2005 NIE on Iran, which is
why it has now been publicly disclosed, according to Deputy DNI Donald
"Since our understanding of Iran's capabilities has changed, we felt it
was important to release this information to ensure that an accurate
presentation is available," he said.
In fact, however, Congress directed the DNI in the FY 2007 defense
authorization act to prepare an unclassified summary of the Estimate.
"Consistent with the protection of intelligence sources and methods, an
unclassified summary of the key judgments of the National Intelligence
Estimate should be submitted." (House Report 109-702, section 1213,
Intelligence on Iran).