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We’ve had Indicators and Warnings of Iran’s nuclear weapons intentions going back twenty-five years.
In late 1986, the Iranian Atomic Energy Agency publicly announced it was signing a “consulting” agreement with a Pakistani metallurgist named AQ Khan. I wrote about this agreement at the time – and continued writing about these Indicators and Warnings as they became known.
In 1992, the Simon Wiesenthal Center asked me to compile this information into a monograph called Weapons of Mass Destruction: the cases Iran, Syria, and Libya. At that time, I was looking at patterns emerging from Iran’s procurement of certain dual-use technologies that were needed for a centrifuge enrichment program.
It was clear to me then, as it was to many others, that Iran had a uranium enrichment program. But the U.S. intelligence community failed to connect the dots. Even in 2005 when I wrote a narrative version of Iran’s nuclear weapons development program in Countdown to Crisis, noteworthy scholars dismissed my information as “sensational” and based on “faulty sources.”
This week’s IAEA report shows beyond a doubt that Iran has cold-tested all the components of a workable nuclear weapon design, as I reported in June. It also shows Iran had significant assistance from a Russian nuclear weapons scientists, who for five years helped Iran to design a nuclear weapons trigger.
Rather than a haphazard effort, Iran’s nuclear weapons research was “managed through a program structure, assisted by advisory bodies, and that, owing to the importance of these efforts, senior Iranian figures featured within this command structure,” the IAEA report found.
The program was run out of a “Scientific Committee” under the auspices of the Defense Ministry’s Education Research Institute, the IAEA found.
The IAEA report also shoots down – yet again – the National Intelligence Council’s fatally flawed 2007 National Intelligence on Iran, which stated at the outset that Iran had stopped nuclear weapons research in 2003. The IAEA found that the research continued, underground and unreported.
And yet, in a recent talk to intelligence community retirees and other guests, the Director of National Intelligence, Lt. Gen. James Clapper, said his fingerprints were “all over” the 2007 NIE and that he stood by it one hundred percent.
How much more information do we need to understand that Iran is hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons and threatening to use them against Israel and the United States? How many more dots do we need before our intelligence community and our political leaders connect them to read the words IMMINENT THREAT spelled out just like that, in capital letters?
Iran’s leaders believe the “end of days” is come, and that by annhiliating Israel with a nuclear weapon they can “hasten the return” of the 12th imam, the Imam Mahdi of Shiite Muslim eschatology.
But in response to Iran’s latest efforts, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the State Department would open a “virtual embassy” to Iran, and gave an interview to the BBC Persian service where she claimed the Obama Administration failed to respond to the June 2009 protests in Iran because their Iran advisors counseled them against it.
Here’s a novel thought: if our intelligence analysts, including those right at the top, fail to connect the dots, why don’t we just fire them?
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