If you had been following press releases and statements from Mohamed ElBaradei and the International Atomic Energy Agency, you knew at least a year ago what it has taken the Bush administration until yesterday to learn (or to admit, given your perspective). Iran is not pursuing a Nuclear weapons program.
This http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071204/ap_on_go_pr_wh/us_iran_analysis article yesterday by Associated Press White House Correspondent Terence Hunt raised what I am sure is going to be a common theme in the news over the next few days and that is the striking similarity between the incorrect statements and assessments from the White House on both Iraqi and Iranian weapons programs. Hunt and AP had these choice quotes in the article:
National Intelligence Director John Negroponte told Congress in January. "Our assessment is that Tehran is determined to develop nuclear weapons."
Just last month, President Bush, at a news conference with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, said, "We talked about Iran and the desire to work jointly to convince the Iranian regime to give up their nuclear weapons ambitions, for the sake of peace."
More ominously, Bush told a news conference Oct. 17, "I've told people that if you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon."
Asked then if he definitely believed that Iran wanted to build a nuclear bomb, Bush said, "Yeah, I believe they want to have the capacity, the knowledge, in order to make a nuclear weapon."
All Bush and the administration had to do to get a clear picture on Iran was to listen to statements coming from IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei. The IAEA and ElBaradei have had trained nuclear inspection teams on site examining every aspect of the Iranian nuclear program for the better part of four years. The Financial Times published an interview http://www.iaea.org/NewsCenter/Transcripts/2007/ft190207.html with ElBaradei in February of 2007 where ElBaradei explained the situation with Iran’s nuclear program. Here are relevant excerpts:
FT: If you define industrial capacity as a cascade of 3,000 centrifuges or more, since if that was fully functioning it would take a year to get enough fissile material for a bomb, how far away do you think they are at the current stage of progress?
ELBARADEI: I think they are still far away.
FT: A year, two years?
ELBARADEI: It´s difficult, I really like not to take numbers, to speculate, but away from what, from developing the three thousand [centrifuges]?
FT: From getting three thousand functioning smoothly.
ELBARADEI: I don´t know, it could be a year, it could be six months. It could be a year, but we need to remember but as long as even they have 3,000 [centrifuges], as long as these 3,000 are under [NPT] safeguards, they cannot go beyond five per cent, people forget that... it´s really a risk assessment more of tomorrow more than it is of today...
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