US Intel Always Overestimates How Long it Takes a Country to Get the Bomb


Obama and the media are acting as if the pace of Iran’s nuclear program is a known element that can be predicted with a fine degree of accuracy so that we can intervene in the exact second before Iran goes nuclear.

But it doesn’t work that way.

US estimates on when a country goes nuclear have always been off and they’ve erred on the generous side. Here are some examples.

Six weeks before the Soviets tested their first bomb in August 1949, U.S. intelligence confidently assessed that a Russian test was at least two years away.

Fifty years ago, the CIA produced a Special National Intelligence Estimate (SNIE) on China’s nuclear weapons program for President Lyndon Johnson.

In conclusion, the SNIE reads, the available facts “do not permit a very confident estimate of the chances of a Chinese Communist nuclear detonation in the next few months. Clearly the possibility of such a detonation before the end of the year cannot be ruled out—the test may occur during this period. On balance, however, we believe that it will not occur until sometime after the end of 1964.”

Seven weeks later, China tested its first nuclear bomb on October 16, 1964, a highly enriched uranium implosion device.

Most recently, the Bush Administration was blindsided by Israeli intelligence showing the existence of a Syrian plutonium reactor.

And let’s not forget this triumph of nuclear intelligence.

The Republican chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence alleged Wednesday that U.S. intelligence gathering suffered a “colossal failure” in not detecting India’s intention to set off underground nuclear tests this week.

Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama said the U.S. intelligence community was caught completely off guard. “Something went wrong,” he told CNN in a live interview. “It was a colossal failure of U.S. intelligence.”

The inability to detect India’s intentions is “the biggest failure of our intelligence gathering agencies in the past 10 years or more,” he said. “Somebody is responsible for this.”

The CIA announced on Tuesday it was launching a blue-ribbon assessment of U.S. intelligence performance on the India nuclear issue

So no, we can’t actually know anything. The French, the Brits and the Israelis will have better intel, but theirs won’t be perfect either. Iran’s nuclear program has gotten too big and its military-industrial complex is too complicated.

The fake nuclear negotiations are an attempt by Iran to  buy time. It knows that if the threshold is clear and obvious, even the West might be pressured into an air strike, to protect Gulf oil supplies rather than Israel, so it’s going to go nuclear ahead of schedule and ahead of estimates. It has a plan for doing so. The rest is details.

  • Softly Bob

    Iran have probably already got the bomb.

  • SoCalMike

    Parasites enjoy the protection of media false prophets and running dogs who will always do their best to point fingers any and everywhere to protect their little party tin pots.
    The CIA has been reduced to a sorry collection of academic bimbos.
    The real human talent was run off and cast out decades ago to make room for Ivy League bimbos to sit at desks and read.
    And even when you give the CIA or FBI critical information, they just sit on it and miss the threats like they did at Fort Hood, the Underwear Bomber, the 9/11 hijackers and the Boston Marathon Bombers.
    These amateurish bimbos posing as CIA agents and officials are PC book worms devoted to themselves and their budgets.

    • liz

      “A sorry collection of academic bimbos” – that is a good description of this entire administration.

  • $96744966


    What the heck is the difference HOW long it takes?

    If they get it, they’ve got it!

  • Hard Little Machine

    The CIA also missed India’s Smiling Buddha nuclear test in 1974 as well as Pakistan’s nuclear test in 1998.

  • Mike

    “The French, the Brits and the Israelis will have better intel, but theirs won’t be perfect either. ”

    I don’t think the assertion is supported by what we commonly know or any references. I think the statement is fin if you replace “will” with “may”.

    Certainly Israeli intelligence has been better than the U.S. in some areas in the past and it has been demonstrably so. You have had an important essay in the last week on corruption in Israeli politics and how the Obama administration was involved in it. One of the corrupt figures was an Israeli intel head. that has got to affect Israeli intel.

    “Ashkenazi, then-Mossad director Meir Dagan and then-Shin Bet director Avi Dichter”

    “Did Obama Inc. Work to Stage a Micro Coup in Israel over Iran?”

    That said I agree with the overall point of the essay.

  • Wayne LaGoebbels

    Then why hasn’t Iran killed us all already and ushered in their messiah?

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