I’m at a conference overseas and just got a chance to look through the highlights in the International Herald Tribune. A couple quick thoughts:
The NIE appears focused on any indigenous Iranian program only. After the Syria episode, what does import of nuclear weapon-relevant technology do to the timeline?
If Iran was working on a nuclear weapons program until 2003, what does this say about U.S. policy in the late Clinton period and European engagement? Is it fair to say that while Iran spoke of dialogue of civilizations, it was working on a nuclear weapons program?
Iran has staunchly denied it ever had such a program. Will it now detail it? Will the analysts who agreed with Iran come clean and explain how they got it wrong?
What role does the intelligence community place on ideology within the Islamic Republic and its decision-making? Talking strictly of costs and benefits in Middle East decision-making always falls flats, since so many regional decisions do not maximize benefits. Indeed, while Tehran can be pragmatic (both for good and for bad), its actions seldom maximize benefits for Iran and its strategic position.
Many critics of sanctions and democratization policy said simply that there was no time to implement such policies. Doesn’t this NIE provide more time for comprehensive sanctions and civil society-building and support to continue, certainly alongside diplomacy?
If pressure works, doesn’t it make more sense to have a third round of sanctions (which Condoleezza Rice had said would be completed by the end of last month) than relief from pressure?