The Duck of Minerva

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NIE open thread

December 4, 2007

I’m curious what our readers make of the newly declassified part of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE): “Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities” [pdf]. In particular, its claim that:

We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program; we also assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons. We judge with high confidence that the halt, and Tehran’s announcement of its decision to suspend its declared uranium enrichment program and sign an Additional Protocol to its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Safeguards Agreement, was directed primarily in response to increasing international scrutiny and pressure resulting from exposure of Iran’s previously undeclared nuclear work.

It continues:

B. We continue to assess with low confidence that Iran probably has imported at least some weapons-usable fissile material, but still judge with moderate-to-high confidence it has not obtained enough for a nuclear weapon. We cannot rule out that Iran has acquired from abroad—or will acquire in the future—a nuclear weapon or enough fissile material for a weapon. Barring such acquisitions, if Iran wants to have nuclear weapons it would need to produce sufficient amounts of fissile material indigenously—which we judge with high confidence it has not yet done.

I received a link to the New York Times story earlier today with the subject heading “this needs to be the first thing you read.” I’ll say.

Daniel Drezner, as usual, asks a provocative question or three and links to Kevin Drum’s thoughts on the subject.

I don’t have a great deal to add at this point, so I’m hoping for a good discussion in comments.

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Daniel H. Nexon is a Professor at Georgetown University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Government and the School of Foreign Service. His academic work focuses on international-relations theory, power politics, empires and hegemony, and international order. He has also written on the relationship between popular culture and world politics.