Iranian Nuclear Weapons Program? What Iranian Nuclear Weapons Program?

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The newly declassified National Intelligence Estimate on Iran [.pdf] says it clearly:

"We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program."

Wow. So what we've been hearing from the Bush administration for the last four years is a paranoid distortion of the facts on the ground? Shocked. We are absolutely shocked.

No wonder Dick Cheney worked so feverishly to keep this bottled up.

More key judgments:

Iran's still not very close to a nuclear bomb:

We judge with moderate confidence that the earliest possible date Iran would be technically capable of producing enough HEU [highly enriched uranium] for a weapon is late 2009, but that this is very unlikely.

We judge with moderate confidence Iran probably would be technically capable of producing enough HEU for a weapon sometime during the 2010-2015 time frame. (INR [The State Dept's intelligence agency whose dissenting judgments on Iraq were spot on] judges Iran is unlikely to achieve this capability before 2013 because of foreseeable technical and programmatic problems.) All agencies recognize the possibility that this capability may not be attained until after 2015.

We judge with high confidence that Iran will not be technically capable of producing and reprocessing enough plutonium for a weapon before about 2015.

The regime is rational, and sanctions may work well as a deterrent:

Our assessment that Iran halted the program in 2003 primarily in response to international pressure indicates Tehran's decisions are guided by a cost-benefit approach rather than a rush to a weapon irrespective of the political, economic, and military costs. This, in turn, suggests that some combination of threats of intensified international scrutiny and pressures, along with opportunities for Iran to achieve its security, prestige, and goals for regional influence in other ways, might — if perceived by Iran's leaders as credible — prompt Tehran to extend the current halt to its nuclear weapons program. It is difficult to specify what such a combination might be.