by Bob Sackamento, Fri Jul 25, 2008 at 02:03:17 AM EDT
January 5, 1995
Iran May Be Able to Build an Atomic Bomb in 5 Years, U.S. and Israeli Officials Fear
By CHRIS HEDGES,
Published: January 5, 1995
Iran is much closer to producing nuclear weapons than previously thought, and could be less than five years away from having an atomic bomb, several senior American and Israeli officials say. "The date by which Iran will have nuclear weapons is no longer 10 years from now," a senior official said recently, referring to previous estimates. "If the Iranians maintain this intensive effort to get everything they need, they could have all their components in two years. Then it will be just a matter of technology and research. If Iran is not interrupted in this program by some foreign power, it will have the device in more or less five years."
Iran, like Iraq, was to have been isolated by severe sanctions in a policy described by Administration officials as "dual containment." But senior Administration officials interviewed in Washington said their efforts had failed to halt the flow of nuclear technology to Iran.
Fast forward to 2000.
When U.S. President Bill Clinton came into office, he initially took a tough approach with Iran as part of his "dual containment" policy against that country and Iraq and imposed sanctions, Slavin said. But when Mohammad Khatami was unexpectedly elected president of Iran in 1997 and said in a CNN interview that he wanted to "break down the bulky wall of mistrust between the two countries," Clinton welcomed the possible rapprochement.
Slavin said Clinton sent a message to the Iranians through the Saudis to arrange a meeting between high-level officials from the two countries. But Clinton received no reply from Khatami. Clinton tried again by slightly easing sanctions against Iran, and Secretary of State Madeline Albright publicly apologized for the United States' role in Iran's 1953 coup and for siding with Iraq in the Iran-Iraq War.
Fast forward to 2003.
In a direct repudiation of Clinton's appeasement efforts, Iran never takes advantage of his naivety to develop their coveted nukes. According to a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that the US will release in 2008, Iran halts their nuclear weapons program by 2003.
Fast forward to 2008.
After the recent National Intelligence Estimate on Iran was released, Israel publicly challenged the U.S. intelligence consensus that Iran had stopped its nuclear weapons program. "In our opinion," Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said, Iran "has apparently continued that program."
But in private conversations with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert last week, the president all but disowned the document, said a senior administration official who accompanied Bush on his six-nation trip to the Mideast. "He told the Israelis that he can't control what the intelligence community says, but that (the NIE's) conclusions don't reflect his own views" about Iran's nuclear-weapons program, said the official, who would discuss intelligence matters only on the condition of anonymity.
(Editor's aside: Didn't Bush ignore similar National Intelligence Estimates regarding Iraq? Or something about him hating the report with such passion that he pressured Tenet et al. to tailor its findings?)
Rewind to 2002.
David Kay, former Iraq Weapons inspector, characterizes the 2002 NIE on Iraq and WMDs:
I think it was a poor job, probably the worst of the modern NIE's, partly explained by the pressure, but more importantly explained by the lack of information they had. And it was trying to drive towards a policy conclusion where the information just simply didn't support.
(Editor's aside: Oh yeah, that's how we got into this mess. So speaking of never again, how about we never again elect leaders who would dupe us into a war?)
Fast forward back to today.