The Iran NIE has elicited a range of emotions in those opposed to the Bush administration's policies from gloating to discreet celebration. In the minds of many, it's like V-Day: Let the church bells peal, kiss a girl in Times Square. Others, particularly Iranian commentators located in the US, are considerably less sanguine.
They fear, as Farideh Farhi writes at Juan Cole's spin-off, Informed Comment: Global Affairs, that the NIE can "easily become an instrument in support of the Bush Administration's current policy."
In fact, according to Kaveh Afrasiabi at Asia Times Online, "The temporary freeze on the military option [resulting from] the new intelligence report has nested within it its exact opposite." In other words, a Trojan horse.
Even though, he maintains, the nuclear programs that Iran halted in 2004-2005 were not weapons, the NIE and the administration painted them as such. If a follow-up report were to indicate that Iran planned to resurrect said weapons program, that would provide "ample justification for Washington's planned 'pre-emptive strikes' on Iran, not to mention added sanctions."
Thus leaving "the pendulum capable of swinging in wildly different directions almost at will."
Meanwhile, at CASMII (Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Action Against Iran), Daniel Pourkesali writes, "Forgive this writer for being a spoiler." But he too finds that the resurrection theme is like a ticking time bomb embedded in the NIE.
He mentions the "assertions on page 7 paragraph D [of the NIE] that 'Iranian entities are continuing to develop a range of technical capabilities that could be applied to produce nuclear weapons if a decision is made to do so.'"
They leave "the door wide open for administration hawks like Mr. Cheney to abruptly accuse Iran of resurrecting its 'nuclear weapons program much as he did back in 2002, claiming that Saddam Hussein had 'resumed his effort to acquire nuclear weapons.'" In other words, the hawks are fixated on another bird, the phoenix.
At NIAC (National Iranian-American Council), Trita Parsi explains how the administration further unrolls the rock before the resurrection justification. "Rather than adjusting policy on Iran in accordance to the reality-check provided by the NIE, the President moved the goal post on Iran.
"As the NIE declared that Iran likely doesn't have a weapons program, the President shifted the red line from weaponization to the mere knowledge of enriching uranium [which, of course] is not of a military nature and is permitted by the Non-Proliferation Treaty."
"The President also pointed out, as though to justify military strikes, that Iran's knowledge of the enrichment process would permit Tehran to have a clandestine program. [But, of course] a full suspension of the Iranian program would not eliminate the Iranian knowledge of the enrichment program and, as a result, the risk of a clandestine program would continue to exist."
Unless, of course, the atomic scientists of Iran submitted to the erasure of their memories as if their minds were hard drives.
Finally, Farideh Farhi weighs in at Juan Cole's spin-off, Informed Comment: Global Affairs on the "propitious convergence between the NIE and the Bush Administration's current policy and the timing of the release of this report," which was finished a year ago. (See Gareth Porter for a full explanation.)
First she reminds us of Stephen Hadley's statement that "the President has the right strategy, intensified international pressure along with the willingness to negotiate. . . [and for it] to succeed, the international community has to turn up the pressure on Iran -- with diplomatic isolation, United Nations Sanctions, and with other financial pressure."
Then she frets that "this NIE can so easily become an instrument in support of the Bush Administration's current policy."
We'll allow Dr. Afrasiabi to be the last to rain on the parade. "The bottom line. . . [is that the US] has now pre-positioned itself for yet another disastrous gambit in the volatile Middle East."