The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a National Intelligence Estimate (“Key Judgments” only) on Iran’s nuclear program today. You can download the report at the DNI web site. For some, the report was an occasion for reflexive Bush-bashing; this Reuters article, widely read since it was featured on Yahoo News, is headlined “Report contradicts Bush on Iran nuclear program.” Reuters begins:
A new U.S. intelligence report says Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and it remains on hold, contradicting the Bush administration’s earlier assertion that Tehran was intent on developing a bomb.
This lead paragraph is ridiculous, given that, if you read a bit further, Reuters acknowledges that today’s report “marked a sharp contrast to an intelligence report two years ago that stated Iran was ‘determined to develop nuclear weapons.'” In other words, the intelligence community has changed its mind.
The Associated Press, to its credit, did much better in its article, titled US Officials: Iran Has Nuke Capability, which begins:
Iran halted its nuclear weapons development program in the fall of 2003 under international pressure but is continuing to enrich uranium, which means it may still be able to develop a weapon between 2010 and [sic] senior intelligence officials said Monday.
That finding, in a new National Intelligence Estimate on Iran, is a change from two years ago, when U.S. intelligence agencies believed Tehran was determined to develop a nuclear capability and was continuing its weapons development program.
What has changed since 2005? Apparently the CIA or another agency has gotten credible information that, in the words of the NIE, “in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program.” A footnote explains:
For the purposes of this Estimate, by