Contrary to hyperbolic rhetoric and threats of preemptive attack from the US and Israel, experts still agree there is no imminent prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran, reports the Los Angeles Times.
As has been known for several years but only rarely acknowledged in the mainstream press, US intelligence has concluded that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program and has so far demonstrated no intention of starting one. Recent visits to Israel by Obama administration officials and the Romney campaign have renewed Israeli claims that ‘the window is closing’ on blocking an Iranian nuclear weapon.
“This is a window that has been closing for 15 years now, and it’s always imminently about to close,” Jamal Abdi, policy director for the National Iranian American Council told the Los Angeles Times.
“I don’t see any particular breakthroughs in the Iranian program,” says Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova, a nonproliferation scholar at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. “It’s been on a pretty steady course,” and “there is technically no urgency to” prepare for an attack on Iran.
“According to the U.S. intelligence community, the Iranian leadership hasn’t even made the decision to weaponize their program,” said Alireza Nader, senior policy analyst on Iran for Rand Corp. “They’ve been creating the technical know-how and the infrastructure, but they haven’t made that decision, and there is much more time than the Israelis portray there to be.”
While most of the coverage of the debate on Iran fails to emphasize the complete lack of a weapons program or of any real security threat to the US, some reports have covered this. In February the New York Times ran a front page story entitled “U.S. Agencies See No Move by Iran to Build a Bomb.” It reported: “Recent assessments by American spy agencies are broadly consistent with a 2007 intelligence finding that concluded that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program years earlier. The officials said that assessment was largely reaffirmed in a 2010 National Intelligence Estimate, and that it remains the consensus view of America’s 16 intelligence agencies.”
Again in March, they reported “top administration officials have said that Iran still has not decided to pursue a weapon, reflecting the intelligence community’s secret analysis.” Another in the Los Angeles Times was similarly headlined, “U.S. does not believe Iran is trying to build nuclear bomb.”
The pundits and politicians engage in systematic threat inflation on Iran. Their primary aim is to undermine the regime; they’re not concerned about some imaginary nuclear weapons program.
Alon Ben-Meir, a professor of international relations at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs, says Israeli bluster is not all talk, necessarily. “I don’t think Israel is bluffing entirely. There is an element of exaggerating its readiness to act and likelihood of winning. But many advisors to Prime Minister Netanyahu are saying that if he waits six or eight months, they may end up unable to do anything significant in terms of damage” to nuclear facilities that Iran has been moving underground to protect them from airstrikes, he said.