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The U.S. and Israel's 'Overreaction' to Iran's Nuclear Program: Another Mythical 'Intelligence Failure'

World  (tags: Iran, US, Israel, nuclear "threat", nuclear weapons, UN, IAEA, intelligence, Parchin site, Ahmadinejad )

- 2325 days ago -
the assessment of the U.S. intelligence community is that Iran has no nuclear weapons program.. Furthermore, Israeli intelligence agrees that Iran has not decided to build a bomb--in other words, that it has no active nuclear weapons program..


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Angelika R (143)
Saturday March 9, 2013, 10:21 am
In the February issue of Foreign Policy, Jacques E. C. Hymans urges that it is time for the U.S. and Israel to stop overreacting about Iran’s nuclear program, which might otherwise be a welcome departure from the usual fearmongering, but for the fact that the reason he offers is just a new spin on the same old propaganda theme.

Hymans states that “Israel has consistently overestimated Iran’s nuclear program for decades” and that “U.S. intelligence agencies have been only slightly less alarmist, and they, too, have had to extend their timelines repeatedly.” While the former statement is certainly true enough, the latter is a remarkably odd assertion, given the fact that the assessment of the U.S. intelligence community is that Iran has no nuclear weapons program. Hymans surely cannot be unaware of this. Furthermore, Israeli intelligence agrees that Iran has not decided to build a bomb—in other words, that it has no active nuclear weapons program.

Of course, both Israeli and American government officials continually make proclamations to the contrary, just as U.S. officials repeatedly made claims not only unsupported but contradicted by the available intelligence prior to the Iraq war. Hymans alludes to this, writing that “similar, unfounded fears were the basis for President George W. Bush’s preemptive attack against Iraq and its nonexistent weapons of mass destruction.” Indeed, the U.S. government had waged a disinformation campaign against the public in order to manufacture consent for the policy of regime change, with the myth of an “intelligence failure” subsequently being invented in order to cover up the fact that government officials had repeatedly lied in order to start a war. The parallel to the situation is Iran is certainly warranted, but, unfortunately, Hymans fails to draw the most important lesson from that history, too obvious to mention.

On the contrary, he contents himself to repeat the same mistake by acting the propagandist and declaring, without evidence and contrary to the U.S.’s own intelligence assessment, that Iran is actively trying to build a nuclear weapon. “What explains Israel’s most recent intelligence failure?” he asks.

Israeli officials have suggested that Iran decided to downshift its nuclear program in response to international sanctions and Israel’s hawkish posture. But that theory falls apart when judged against Tehran’s own recent aggressiveness. In the past few months, Iran has blocked the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from gaining access to suspect facilities, stalled on diplomatic meetings, and announced a “successful” space shot and the intention to build higher-quality centrifuges. These are not the actions of a state that is purposely slowing down its nuclear program.

What Hymans fails to mention to his readers is that the IAEA has had full access to all facilities Iran is legally obligated to permit inspectors to visit under its safeguards agreement. He refers to Iran’s refusal to permit access to a sensitive military installation at Parchin, which Iran is under no legal obligation to allow the IAEA access to. Furthermore, the claim that the Parchin site has been used to advance Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon arose from the IAEA’s November 2011 report, which suggested that a nuclear expert from a foreign country had helped Iran to develop an explosives containment unit there. But the individual referred to in the report, Vlachyslav Danilenko, never worked on weapons and denied having assisted Iran to that end. Danilenko is known for specializing in the production of nano-diamonds and acknowledged working in Iran to develop an explosive containment cylinder for that purpose. In addition, Iran has repeatedly offered to permit the IAEA access to the site if the agency was willing to offer an assurance that Iran would be given a clean bill of health of no proscribed activity was found to have taken place there, a reasonable request the IAEA has refused to agree to.

As for supposedly having “stalled” on talks, Hymans again fails to mention that Iran has repeatedly expressed its desire to enter negotiations with the U.S. and other Western nations, but with the assumption that they should be founded on mutual respect and recognition of Iran’s rights, while the U.S. has rather insisted as a basis for talks that Iran must accept its ultimatum under the threat of force to surrender its rights under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Hymans accepts the basic framework of the U.S. position unquestioningly, even describing Iran’s intention to legally build better centrifuges as an example of its “aggressiveness”. He has no words for the aggressiveness of the U.S. threat to use military force—a violation of the U.N. Charter—if Iran does not surrender to its demands, or for the U.S.’s “crippling sanctions” targeting Iran’s civilian population—an act of collective punishment also in violation of international law.

Hymans meaninglessly comments that the behaviors he cites are not signs from Iran “that it is purposely slowing down its nuclear program.” That is true. Iran has been more than clear that it has intention of doing so. More relevantly, however, its actions are also not signs that Iran has a nuclear weapons program, that its program is intended for anything other than peaceful civilian purposes.

To explain the U.S. and Israel’s ostensible “intelligence failure” on Iran, Hymans writes:

The most plausible reason for the consistent pattern of overstatement is that Israeli and U.S. models of Iranian proliferation are flawed. Sure enough, Israeli officials have acknowledged that they did not anticipate the high number of technical problems Iranian scientists have run into recently…. There is ample reason to believe that such slipups have been the main cause of Iran’s extremely slow pace of nuclear progress all along.

So Iran really does have nuclear weapons program, Hymans would have his readers believe, and is actively trying to build a bomb—it just isn’t very good at it. Iran has “a dysfunctional nuclear weapons program”, he asserts, without the slightest shred of evidence to support his claim that there is a military aspect to Iran’s program; and this, then, is the explanation for the U.S. and Israeli “intelligence failure” of “overreacting” about just how imminent the threat of Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon is. “Since U.S. and Israeli intelligence services have failed to appreciate the weakness of Iran’s nuclear weapons program,” he argues, “they have not adjusted their analytical models accordingly.”

One could otherwise argue that the U.S. and Israel very much “appreciate the weakness of Iran’s nuclear weapons program”, since the intelligence agencies of both countries assess that such a program is nonexistent. As for proclamations to the contrary made by both nations’ political leaders, Hymans doesn’t consider the simplest and most obvious explanation: they are lying. It just would not do for the priesthood of the state religion to suggest such things; hence the necessity for manufacturing another mythical “intelligence failure” to explain away why there just doesn’t seem to be any evidence to support the declarations of officialdom.

Tim C (2420)
Saturday March 9, 2013, 10:22 am

Mike S (86)
Saturday March 9, 2013, 11:07 am
Great article Angie. Thanks!

Angelika R (143)
Saturday March 9, 2013, 11:10 am
It is time to draw the RED LINE on all the lies, myths, threats and warmongering!

Angelika R (143)
Saturday March 9, 2013, 11:18 am
I was also glad to find this and gain knowledge on why Iran IS NOT OBLIGED to have the IAEA inspect the Parchin site, one point media never told us! And it's outrageous that the IAEA refused Iran's request to get confirmation of their non-military activity there just so that the myths, suspicion and lie can be kept alive!

divergent revolution (309)
Saturday March 9, 2013, 11:28 am
I hope you're right.
Don't want nukes in the hands of zealots.
Ty Angelika

Angelika R (143)
Saturday March 9, 2013, 12:48 pm
Nobody wants that. North Korea certainly is a zealot but Iran would be more than stupid, which I don't think they are, to develop, let alone EVER threaten to use or even use nuclear weapons (plural is hightly improbable, perhaps they could in time make a few warheads, - to compete with Israel's 400?) on Israel, knowing it would be destroyed in an instant.

Angelika R (143)
Saturday March 9, 2013, 1:19 pm
thanks Free. I have seen this petition before but could not sign lacking the 4 additional zip digits :(

And anyone who has not yet signed the 2 petitions I have posted against both resolutions (S. Res. 65 and HR 850 should do so. Links again here : Stand Up to AIPAC on HR 850
Stand Up to AIPAC on S. Res. 65

Aletta Kraan (146)
Saturday March 9, 2013, 2:20 pm
Noted !

Past Member (0)
Saturday March 9, 2013, 3:31 pm
I think North korea is more worrying at the moment

noted thanks

Henriette Matthijssen (154)
Saturday March 9, 2013, 8:17 pm
USA & Israhell are blaming Iran for what they are guilty off! Thanks Angie.

Stephen Brian (23)
Saturday March 9, 2013, 10:52 pm
Those "technical problems" were Stuxnet, Flame, assassinations of experts, and whatever other interference.

The sources the article cites for there being no program are another article by the same author and a Reuters article which just says that Iran is not at the bomb-building stage of such a program. Here's what I would like before anybody dismisses the program: Iran says that the enrichment is meant to produce isotopes for medicaldiagnostic purposes. I want to see a comparison, with data from intelligence sources and independent inspection of hospitals, of the expected production given the amount of uranium enriched and the amount actually held in hospitals' inventories. If the numbers are accurate, and given Flame they really should be, that should answer the question finally one way or the other.

paul m (93)
Sunday March 10, 2013, 7:31 am

All Countries with Nuclear bombs are trouble ,the reson Iran and Co. have bombs is because we have them
we have no money to look after our people but Billions for Nuclear Bombs,,,

M B (62)
Sunday March 10, 2013, 11:04 am
I fully agree with Paul M.: "...,the reason Iran and Co. have bombs is because WE have them " !!

Angelika R (143)
Sunday March 10, 2013, 11:19 am
Monka, I, too would agree with you both provided that "we" means ALL countries that have nulear power.
Paul's comment leaves room for doubt if he believes Iran actually HAS a bomb. I fully support total disarmament of nuke arsenals so that this threat will disappear and the world could live in peace.

Arielle S (313)
Sunday March 10, 2013, 11:39 am
We seem to love hysteria in this country - everything from space comets to snowfall becomes a BIG deal. And war is BIG money. Let's hope saner heads rule for a change...

Birgit W (160)
Sunday March 10, 2013, 12:40 pm
No nuclear weapons!

Darren Woolsey (218)
Sunday March 10, 2013, 1:17 pm
Weapons of Mass Delusion?

Angelika R (143)
Sunday March 10, 2013, 1:48 pm
" Global Zero will always have a partner in me and my administration!" -B. Obama
Ok Mr. President- walk your walk, not just talk your talk.
That agreement was reached under Medwedjew, not Putin. I wonder if the latter has or would sign on to it.

M B (62)
Sunday March 10, 2013, 1:51 pm
sorry, you're right, Angie. I don't believe Iran has a bomb, actually. I'm not following those hate mongers who want us to believe their propaganda.
NOBODY should have nukes.

Lois Jordan (63)
Sunday March 10, 2013, 2:29 pm
Oh, what a tangled web they are weaving! Has everyone forgotten Curveball and the Downing Street Memo? Seems like a good time to remind people about that tangled web that ensnared Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame Wilson....outing her CIA status. In fact, she was on The Daily Show asking everyone to logon to and sign the petition.

Lois Jordan (63)
Sunday March 10, 2013, 2:30 pm
And, thank you for posting the petition links, Angelika.....all gladly signed.

Yvonne White (229)
Sunday March 10, 2013, 3:17 pm
Nobody should have nukes, every country has the right to develop their own utilities - and weaponizing the waste from nuclear power plants is a possibility everywhere there are nuclear plants..I don't understand, though, how Some countries are "allowed" & others NOT..The two craziest countries, the USA & China (ha! You thought I was gonna say N. Korea & Pakistan, didn't ya?) are SO much more dangerous than the Middle Eastern countries as far as the ability to rain down death half a world away rather than in the same approximate vicinity - so killing a neighbor may Also kill your family, friends, etc. I thought the Cold War proved the stupidity of nuclear war-mongering, but the Reich-wing won't read the memo..:(

Past Member (0)
Sunday March 10, 2013, 3:32 pm
War mongers!

Angelika R (143)
Sunday March 10, 2013, 6:27 pm
And Iran has always been stating that THE LANGUAGE need to change. As long as there is THREAT in the words hey will NEVER bow or agree to anything, not even bilateral talks. I hope and trust the US president understands and acknowledges this. Americans do seem to have a hard time understanding and dealing with other foreign mentalities and cultures, that is the same issue with Asians as with Arabians. Pride happens to be something of major importance and mutual respect.

Angelika R (143)
Sunday March 10, 2013, 6:29 pm
However, I have a feeling that this might be less a problem of American origin and rather more of propagandists influence from certain sides.

Angelika R (143)
Sunday March 10, 2013, 6:39 pm
@ Free -quite correct, - but how many actually READ the reports issued by the IAEA? (other than myself and probably you)

Craig Zimmerman (86)
Sunday March 10, 2013, 8:05 pm
I don't see this as an intelligence failure. It is clear that Iran is investing vast resources into producing weapons grade uranium. Why else would an oil rich country like Iran be spending so much money to produce nuclear materials.?

Craig Zimmerman (86)
Sunday March 10, 2013, 8:11 pm
Iran's leadership has made it clear that they would like to see Israel destroyed. If I were Israel I wouldn't wait any longer.

Ray M (0)
Sunday March 10, 2013, 8:45 pm
Isarel and U.S. war mongering republicans can fight their own wars and send their rich kids to do the fighting. We need to stay out of it. Two damn wars have solved nothing except cost thousands their lives and millions of dollars. Enough said.

Kenneth L (314)
Sunday March 10, 2013, 11:01 pm
Iraq doesn't necessarily equal Iran. I'm Mad In a Jad is nuts IMO and has doubted the holocaust and would like the end of Israel. The problem with disinformation is it can be used all around on both sides, and repeatedly used---disinformation about information, counter-disinformation about disinformation, and so on. Then there is the factor that any intelligence agency must be like the 3 Stooges if the public somehow gets any of their actual intelligence. Defeats the purpose don't you think? Maybe just a nosy public thinking they 'know all about it'..
No matter what I would watch every single little thing Iran does in the area of nuclear anything.

Robert O (12)
Monday March 11, 2013, 1:04 am
Thanks Angelika. The less nuclear weapons we have, the better for mankind.

Stan B (123)
Monday March 11, 2013, 1:48 am
Some years ago now, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, “Our nuclear train has no brakes.” Some people laughed about it; some were concerned; and some still are.

It is not clear whether Yukiya Amano, chief of the United Nations nuclear watchdog (International Atomic Energy Agency – IAEA), falls strictly in the latter category, although he did this week demand access to Iran’s Parchin military site. “Without further delay”, he added.

As was to be expected, the demand was rejected, keeping the military base, which is possibly used for the development of nuclear weapons, shrouded in mystery. What is more, Olli Heinonen, Deputy Director-General for Safeguards at the IAEA can’t rule out the possibility that Iran has further secret sites.

At the same time, Fereidun Abbasi, director of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, announced that Iran has built, and will install, centrifuges of a new generation in its nuclear plants.

It should be recalled that Ali Khamenei, the "leader" of Iran, ultimately makes the decisions over the nuclear programme, and not the nuclear negotiators – though they can give an indication of the leadership’s thinking. But as well as keeping tabs on Iran’s nuclear scientists, sometimes it is worth keeping an eye on the Friday preachers when looking to determine the final destination of Iran’s ‘nuclear train’.

The Friday prayers in the “Islamic Republic Iran” are in many ways a form of propaganda; a chance for preachers to propagate the policies of the dictatorship in the name of religion and revolution. But on March 1st, the propaganda reached a new dimension: a nuclear dimension.

Ayatollah Kazem Sedighi delivered a “sermon” and stressed that "Iran will never go one step back from its obvious nuclear rights." He added: "The percentage of our enrichment is nobody's business," reported Farsnews.

Sedighi said: "The talks between Mr Jalili and 5+1 have shown that the positions of Iran are consistent and unwavering." He confirmed, however, that this time the "5+1 positions were more realistic than in the past."

Then he said: "But some news agencies have told nonsense that Iran had agreed to stop the 20 percent enrichment. This talk is without any basis. The Iranian nation is nuclear." Iran would enrich Uranium according to its needs and “is not afraid of any power."

He recalled that President Obama had said that the U.S. would never allow Iran to gain nukes. Sedighi commented that "Iran is not waiting for the permission of the American president."

Sedighi noted that the U.S. could not prevent Pakistan, India and North Korea from building nuclear bombs. Hence, in the case of Iran, the United States would again be powerless to do anything. He also stressed that only the leader of the Islamic system decides on the question of atomic bomb.

Right on cue, the masses screamed in reply: "Death to Israel, Death to America".

The historical narrative

After the last round of negotiations with the 5+1 group in Almaty, the Islamic Republic had reason to celebrate. The Iranian negotiators gained time yet again. And they have every reason to hope the next round on March 17th and 18th will go the same way.

The question is: who has used the negotiations hitherto in the best form for its own interests? Considering that Iran has pursued its nuclear programme fully and is psychologically disposed to think that the West must rethink its own strategy, the answer should be fairly clear.

According to a recent IAEA report, Iran has enriched 280 kg of uranium (UF6) and has enriched 167 kg of Uranium to a level of 20 percent, which, through further enrichment, can be used for a bomb. And it is now being reported that Iran is also to produce heavy water in its plant at Arak.

Notably the combination is suspect, because heavy water reactors can be operated with natural uranium. Moreover, it is worth noting that an enrichment level of 20 percent is not required for commercial use, which doesn’t go beyond three to five percent.

The Islamic Republic is running a double game: Iran has a public and a secret nuclear programme.

In public, it was known that construction of the light-water reactor in Bushehr began 2002, with the help of Russia. Between February and May 2003, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) conducted inspections, while Iran announced than uranium enrichment plants were to be completed in Natanz and Arak.

But in 2003 the IAEA realised that part of the Iranian nuclear programme was secret. In November of that year, the IAEA announced that Iran had confessed to producing plutonium. The IAEA declared that Iran had maintained an unannounced, sophisticated and illegal uranium enrichment program since 1985. (Illegal because Iran had signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1970.)

By 2004, satellite pictures were published, which indicated a military nuclear programme. After the foreign ministers of the Troika Germany, Britain and France traveled to Iran and achieved nothing, the European Union and the U.S. government threatened to send the Iranian file to the UN Security Council.

Russia, then as now, decided to employ a dubious policy and sent fuel rods for the reactor in Bushehr. By this point, the European governments had offered economic incentives to Iran, and hoped for compromise. A recurring theme, in a familiar tale, its efforts were in vain. Iranian politicians have only one goal: to develop their agenda without compromise.

After President Ahmadinejad came to power in 2005, Seyyed Hussein Mousavian left the Iranian negotiating team and was replaced by Saeed Jalili, a war veteran. Tellingly, in May 2007 Mousavian was arrested. He got a five-year work prohibition, having apparently talked ‘too much’ with foreign leaders. But while Mousavian now plays the role of defending Iran in the media from his base at Princeton, the Iranian nuclear programme continues.

Indeed, in July 2006, the UN Security Council Resolution 1696 was adopted against Iran and in the following years Iran's foreign policy became increasingly aggressive. The regime spoke of peace and at the same time supported Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and also the militant forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On December 23rd, 2006, resolution 1737 of the UN Security Council followed. And yet, the more decisively the UN Security Council condemned Iran, the harder the reaction, because the regime can’t abandon its totalitarian goals, without thereby giving up its ideological legitimacy; the aggressive foreign policy, not to mention the terror against its own people, rests on the precondition of the existence of the Islamic dictatorship.

Of course, we’ve had more resolutions since: March 2008 brought with it resolution 1803; September of the same year spawned resolution 1835. These were followed up in June 2010 (resolution 1929), June 2011 (1984), and June 2012 (2049). Step by step, the sanctions were tightened.

But nuclear negotiations with Iran have ultimately failed. Some might still hope for the success of future negotiations, but it is becoming an increasingly popular view to suggest that one must accept Iran will get a nuclear bomb.

Indeed, on February 27th 2013, some 10 years after Iran made promises to the UK, Germany, and France, the Western media reported that Iran is most likely pursuing a ‘Plan B’ to build a plutonium bomb.

Accepting the likeliness of this scenario does not mean ignoring the fact that nuclear weapons in the hands of the Iranian regime are a threat to peace in the region and in the world.

And so the question remains: how to stop a nuclear train without brakes?


Wahied Wahdat-Hagh is a Senior Fellow, a German-Iranian scholar based in Germany, writes in the major German media addressing the threat of Iran as well as violations of human rights and minority rights. He is a graduate sociologist and political scientist and wrote his doctoral PhD. thesis on the issue of the "Third form of totalitarian rule as it manifests itself in Iran". He is a member of the independent German expert group on anti-Semitism, which was established by the Federal Ministry of Interior and was tasked to issue its first report to the German Parliament by the end of 2011.


Angelika R (143)
Monday March 11, 2013, 9:46 am
A reminder here for all: let's not forget that Iran is in ELECTION TIME - everything said should be taken and understood from this background.
And I hope Stan was not trying to challenge anyone here to post further about all UN resolutions at Israel and all simultaneous actions and occurrences in Israel and ME conflict during those times in the past that the post is mostly refering to.

And the world has also learned what to think of Western media reports and theirbeating the war drums on no evidence.

Side note: Everyone by now should have learned TO NOT listen to Friday's hate preachers and their propaganda just as they know better than listen to the evangelical extremist hate preachers in the US!
As to Kenneth's comment: of course we all know Ahmadinejad is crazy and has little to no say so what's the use in even listening to him.

Kirsten Taufer (43)
Monday March 11, 2013, 11:22 am
Wow. Eerily familiar. It's almost like they're trying to create the circumstances for yet another unjustified war.... hmmmm.

Kenneth L (314)
Monday March 11, 2013, 11:57 am
Angelika, I don't know if your last comment to me was sarcasm or not. 'We' don't know all about anything, whoever 'we' are or is. I'm not speaking for anyone else, it's my opinion about Mad in a Jad. You have yours, others have theirs. Anybody who doubts the holocaust, and publicly wishes the demise of an entire modern nation has to be nuts. And if you think Iran doesn't put out it's own disinformation and counter-disinformation you'd be mistaken I'm thinking.

Angelika R (143)
Monday March 11, 2013, 12:04 pm
Kenneth, it was NO sarcasm! I happen to think like you do, that includes your last sentence, every country does.

Angelika R (143)
Monday March 11, 2013, 12:05 pm
BUT- that does NOT include the IAEA.

Lynn Squance (235)
Monday March 11, 2013, 11:51 pm
"He [Hymans] has no words for the aggressiveness of the U.S. threat to use military force—a violation of the U.N. Charter—if Iran does not surrender to its demands, or for the U.S.’s “crippling sanctions” targeting Iran’s civilian population—an act of collective punishment also in violation of international law."

Whether it be Iran's Ahmadinejad, Israel or the US, everybody seems to be talking past the other and not listening. I have had opportunity to speak to many Iranians who all confirm that in their opinions, Ahmadinejad is the biggest cracker in the box. But let us not forget that politicians are just that, politicians and often can't be trusted (my opinion) But also, let's not forget that Israel is a nuclear nation and also would love to nuke Iran based on some things said by her politicians.

So much of this seems to be like a scared cat. Ever see a scared cat how it puffs itself up to make it look bigger and more threatening? I hope all this is nothing more than bluster. There is too much for the entire planet to lose..

Robert K (31)
Tuesday March 12, 2013, 5:39 am
Years ago it was reported and quickly hushed up that the reason for their nuclear program was that Iran's Oil reserves were close to being played out and they were going to need nuclear power to power their electricity. That may have been "An Inconvenient Truth."
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