I must be missing something here. The Brits’ ambassador to the IAEA (ever get the feeling that there is a terrible proliferation of ambassadors?) tells us that they confronted the Iranians with some intel about their nuclear weapons program, you know, the one that the infamous NIE said didn’t exist. That information showed that Iran continued work on its nuclear weapons program after 2003. And the Iranians acted like the celebrated man caught en flagrante and said “who are you gonna believe, me or your own lying eyes?”
As AFP (our French friends) report it, “Diplomats attending the briefing said the material presented to the board of governors had infuriated Iranian ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh.” Notice the proliferation applies to Iranian ambassadors as well. In any case, Soltanieh threw a tantrum, as the mullahs so often do.
Here’s my problem: It had been widely reported that our, uh, intelligence community had given information that the IAEA could use in questioning the mullahs. And the AFP story says that, according to the British ambassador,
The board was presented with material “from multiple sources” suggesting “detailed work put into the designing of the warhead, studying how that warhead would perform, how it would be detonated and how it would be fitted to a Shahab-3 missile…”
Okay, “multiple sources.” That could mean “two Americans,” or lots of different sources. But whatever it means, it seems likely that our analysts had access to that material. (I’m just about at the end, there’s just one more little logical step…).
So, how could our experts have issued that NIE? However you twist and turn, it makes our guys look really bad. Nothing new, to be sure, but this seems remarkable. Even for them.