White House: US ‘Would Know’ If Iran Decided to Build Nukes

WH spokesman Jay Carney said the US has covert means of knowing what Iran has and doesn't have

by John Glaser, August 10, 2012

The White House reiterated on Friday that it uses covert means to spy on Iran’s nuclear program and that the US “would know if and when Iran made” the decision to start a weapons program.

White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters “we have eyes — we have visibility into the program, and we would know if and when Iran made what’s called a breakout move towards acquiring a weapon.”

The comment was an apparent rebuke Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s claim  on Thursday that new US intelligence “transforms the Iranian situation into an even more urgent one.” Carney would not comment on any alleged new intelligence, other than to reiterate that the US estimate on Iran’s program hasn’t changed from the reigning consensus, that weaponization was halted back in 2003.

Following Barak’s statements, a senior White House National Security Council spokesman told Reuters, “We continue to assess that Iran is not on the verge of achieving a nuclear weapon.”

According to Marc Ambinder, “the CIA’s ops arm, the National Clandestine Service, along with the U.S. military” have been “scrutinizing and seizing cargo shipments bound for Iran, tapping the black market for nuclear supplies and buying up spare parts, and maximizing the collection of Iranian signal traffic.”

One primary type of intelligence the U.S. has on Iran’s nuclear program is what is called “measurement and signature intelligence,” or MASINT. These are “sensors on satellites, drones, and on the ground” measuring “everything from the electromagnetic signatures created by testing conventional missile systems to disturbances in the soil and geography around a hidden nuclear facility to streams of radioactive particles that are byproducts of the uranium enrichment process.” The US “knows what Iran has and doesn’t have,” wrote Ambinder.

Nevertheless, pressure on the Obama administration from Israel continues to push hard for a war on Iran for having a nuclear weapons program that it actually doesn’t have.

What the pro-war crowd can’t seem to grasp is that an attack on Iran would be most likely to push them towards reconstituting their nuclear weapons program. As Thomas Pickering, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and former U.S. Ambassador to the UN under George H.W. Bush, warned recently, a military strike “has a very high propensity, in my view, of driving Iran in the direction of openly declaring and deciding, which it has not yet done according to our intelligence, to make a nuclear weapon to seemingly defend itself under what might look to them and others to be an unprovoked attack.”

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