Cheat-Seeking Missles

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Israel Doesn't Agree With NIE

Mike Huckabee may not have heard a peep about the National Intelligence Estimate conclusion that Iran has suspended work on its nuclear bomb, but the Israelis -- who have a bit of a leg up over the preacher from Hope on foreign policy -- certainly had. And they didn't think too kindly of it:
"We have no doubt," said one Israeli official, who requested to remain anonymous. "If one looks at the investment, if one looks at the nature of the project, if you look at the cost to the Iranian economy, there is no logical explanation other than that the Iranian program is not benign."
Joshua Mitnik reports in the WashTimes that Israel remains convinced that only about two years remain before Iran gets the bomb -- read that as we have two years to stop them -- while the NIE says it will take up to 15 years before Tehran can blow Israel off the map.

The article quotes Likud legislator Yuval Steinitz, a member of the Israeli parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee:
"I don't know of any piece of intelligence that supports this conclusion. It seems to me that this report repeats the mistake of Iraq, but taking it to the opposite conclusion.

"We have a lot of very clear and solid intelligence, that to my best understanding, clearly shows that the Iranians are developing nuclear weapons today, as they did two years ago. This is not a matter of speculation, but this is about solid intelligence."
Some in Israel support the Amemrican intelligence finding, however:
A leading Israeli analyst, Ehud Ya'ari, said on Channel 2 television that the American finding showed that the Iranian program "is further behind than we assumed."

Washington, he said, had rejected Israel's belief that the Iranians are pursuing one or two secret nuclear programs that are not monitored by the West.

"The Americans apparently came to their conclusions on the basis of human intelligence," he said, mentioning Gen. Ali Reza Asghari, a former Iranian deputy defense minister who defected to the West in February.

Oded Granot, a commentator on Channel 1, who, like Mr. Ya'ari, has good connections with Israel's security establishment, said American intelligence had intercepted a transmission from a senior Iranian military official several months ago, in which he expressed disappointment that Iran's nuclear weapons program had been halted.
Does anyone else recall the indisputable fact that our assessment that Saddam Hussein had aggressive biological, chemical and nuclear weapons programs was based primarily on one Iraqi defector's statements to German intelligence? Does anyone else see a similarity here?

This seems like a "those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it" moment.

Mah- I'm- in- the- moud for cock-crowing Ahmadinejad (rhymes with "You've been had!") was certainly ready to reduce any opportunity for us to learn from history:

"This is a declaration of victory for the Iranian nation against the world powers over the nuclear issue," Ahmadinejad told thousands of people during a visit to Ilam province in western Iran.

"This was a final shot to those who, in the past several years, spread a sense of threat and concern in the world through lies of nuclear weapons," Ahmadinejad said, drawing celebratory whistles from the crowd. (AP)

Would you whistle in a celebratory manner if your enemy got your nuclear capabilities assessed right, or would you whistle if your country had succeeded in duping your enemy? Yeah, that's what I thought, too.

Meanwhile, in Putinland, never a country to forsake an opportunity to remember its tarnished, lost past, was quick to seize on the NIE as well:
Russia's foreign minister, meanwhile, indicated that the U.S. report's findings undermined Washington's push for a new set of U.N. sanctions against Iran. (AP)
That shoe fell about as quickly as Nikita Khrushchev's beat up old Oxford fell on the U.N. dais.

If I were a member of a Congressional intelligence committee, I'd be calling secret hearings right now, today, to get to the bottom of this. I agree with the Israelis that there is a mountain of evidence, including particularly Iran's recent admission that it had lied to the IAEA about its possession of P2 centrifuges, that points to an ongoing Mad Mullah nuke program, and I'd want to see every bit of justification the NIE has for altering its assessment.

Shoot me. I just trust the Israelis a lot more than the Tehraniacs.

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